The CEOs of two of the largest U.S companies — Microsoft and GE — pushed back strongly against a political tide that threatens to weaken America's ties to the global economy.
"Right now what I'm looking for is the politics in our country to get to a place where people can win elections by making a case for both globalization and addressing the inequities that do exist in our society," Nadella said.
"That's where we need to get to. It can't be one versus the other," he said.
Nadella spoke along with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt from the Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto on Monday, an annual gathering "with the goal of increasing partner profitability and accelerating business growth." Immelt said that national policies promoting 2 percent GDP growth, for instance, aren't enough for U.S. companies.
It comes as presidential candidates like Donald Trump have called for more protectionist trade policies, like tariffs on Chinese goods, renegotiating NAFTA and restructuring NATO. Democrat Hillary Clinton has also shown mixed support for some trade deals.
"We can compete," Immelt said. "I understand that there's people that haven't done as well as others have as we've globalized. But the fact is that this country is quite competitive. We have great people that work in our factories. We have great products. I would love to see more policies that would help us compete globally versus closing the door on globalization."
Microsoft and General Electric on Monday announced a deal to make GE's industrial software platform available on Microsoft's cloud, a move that puts Microsoft one step closer to its cloud computing rival Amazon. The deal also bolsters GE's software ambitions.
"The way we've always thought about partnerships is, 'What are the companies that are innovating in software? Building solutions that we can partner [with] as a platform provider?'"Nadella said. "In the past it was mostly about tech companies. But now every company is a tech company."
Immelt that GE supports policies like an export-import bank, and if there isn't one in the U.S., they'll move production around the world and take advantage of export banks elsewhere.
"Everybody looks at these trade deals and things like that to be for Microsoft and GE or big companies like that," Immelt said. "We've already globalized. We have 400 factories around the world. Microsoft is in every country around the world. These trade deals help small companies, not big companies."
— CNBC's Jon Fortt contributed to this report.