Former Morgan Stanley Asia Chairman Stephen Roach said Monday that the G-20 financial leaders' dropping their traditionally strong support of free trade was "disturbing" and reflected rising protectionism in the U.S.
"It's pretty disappointing when you get finance ministers from leading countries in the world who, out of the blue, are unable to validate the commitment to anti-protectionism which is the underpinning globalization," Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, told CNBC from the China Development Forum in Beijing.
"That's an obvious reflection of the shifts in the political winds in the United States and indicative of a U.S. economy that is backing away from multilateralism," Roach said. "It was a disturbing meeting."
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the world's 20 biggest economies were unable to follow through with their commitment to endorse free trade in the G-20 communique, as the new Trump administration seeks to put "America first."
Instead of "globalization as a force that is bringing us together, (Trump) feels it is a force that is punishing American middle-class workers," Roach explained.
The economist explained that point with the example of an Apple iPhone having parts from over 50 countries in a "world that is linked through global supply chains."