JPMorgan’s Frenkel ‘very worried’ about a protectionist world, says China ties need nurturing

Key Points
  • Protectionist trade tariffs will not help eradicate poverty, says JPMorgan Chase Chairman.
  • Jacob Frenkel hits out a Trump plans to impose tariffs on China.
  • China is the "most important trading partner", according to the economist.
Protectionism ‘damaging to jobs,’ says JPMorgan International chair
Protectionism ‘damaging to jobs,’ says JPMorgan International chair

The chairman of JPMorgan Chase International has spoken out about his fears of a shift towards protectionist trade, saying it will do nothing to alleviate global inequality.

"I'm very worried about all calls for protectionism," Jacob Frenkel told CNBC Friday on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy.

"The most important element that has elevated poverty in many, many countries, and this is so well-documented, is opening to trade to commerce, to services. It's a mindset of us, rather than a mindset of me and you."

Frenkel's comments come days after President Donald Trump turned up the heat on trade talks with China, telling advisors in the Oval Office "I want tariffs," according to CNN reports.

US President Donald Trump (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida

Trump has long admonished China's trade surplus with the U.S., accusing the country of manipulating its currency and unfairly winning business with its cheap workforce. He has said that he would like to impose trade tariffs on the communist state to rebalance the relationship.

Frenkel, however, said that tariffs would prove a "terrible strategy," insisting that "bilateral deficits measure nothing relevant."

Instead, he said, the U.S. should be nurturing ties with China.

"China is the most important trading partner of every country in the world," Frenkel said. "Maybe if they are not the most important, they are at the second most important," he added.

"It is in the center of the international arena, so the language should be a language of how we can include China more in the international governance, more responsibility, rather than starting the language of trade wars."

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.