HPE's Meg Whitman: Donald Trump's trade policies threaten businesses, workers

Whitman: I will not support Donald Trump
Whitman: I will not support Donald Trump

Donald Trump's trade plan would hurt American businesses and workers, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman told CNBC on Wednesday.

"I think his policies around free trade will be damaging to businesses as a whole," said Whitman, a Republican who waged an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in California in 2010. "We have to be the most cost-effective competitor in the world. We've got to compete against Huawei, against Lenovo, … so, we've got to be incredibly cost effective."

"If we are prohibited from manufacturing in the right locations, that means that jobs in the United States will be in jeopardy because Hewlett Packard Enterprise won't thrive," Whitman added in the "Squawk on the Street" interview. "I am a big proponent of free trade. I think everyone knows free trade is the right thing for American business and American workers."

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Portland, Maine, March 3, 2016.
Trump White House may spark recession: Meg Whitman

In a March interview with CNBC, Trump said free trade needs to be fair trade, adding "we can't let the world take advantage of us."

Whitman also noted then that she thinks the apparent GOP presidential candidate's policies could send the U.S. economy into a recession.

"I don't think a Trump presidency would be good for our business, and I'm exactly where I was three months ago," Whitman said Wednesday.

The Trump campaign didn't immediately respond to calls for comment.

This could spell trouble for Hillary...
This could spell trouble for Hillary...

Still, others believe having a businessman in the White House would boost the American economy.

Economist Peter Navarro predicted Wednesday that a Trump victory would give rise to 25,000 on the Dow Jones industrial average by the end of next year because of the the billionaire's tax and trade reforms.

That would mark about a 40 percent increase over the Dow's Tuesday close of 17,706.

"Trump understands that the problems we're facing now are not cyclical," Navarro told CNBC's "Squawk Box," adding the problems are structural.

— CNBC's Matthew Belvedere contributed to this report.