The world's shipping players have a vested interest in preserving free global trade, and as they meet in Asia, they say they've grown unsettled by rising protectionism in Europe and the U.S.
"If you hear the rhetoric of the Trump or the Brexit debate, it is completely contrary to the way we see growth and trade. They always talk about it as a zero-sum game as if everybody who was a winner was a winner at somebody else's expense," Paddy Rodgers, CEO of crude oil tanker operator Euronav, said on Tuesday at the Sea Asia conference in Singapore.
"We see it as something mutually beneficial, but that's not the language that's being used by politicians," he said.
His comments came as protectionist rhetoric has surged in the wake of the U.S. presidential election and the U.K.'s referendum to exit the European Union.
Although U.S. President Donald Trump has since reneged on some of his protectionist campaign rhetoric, such as a vow to label China a currency manipulator on "day one," he has continued to target other U.S. trade partners.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday that anti-subsidy tariffs averaging around 20 percent would be imposed on imports of softwood lumber from Canada, Reuters reported.