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Trump must avoid making US farmers the collateral damage of his protectionism, CEO says

  • Trump must avoid making American farmers part of the collateral damage of his protectionist policies, Syngenta CEO Erik Fyrwald told CNBC Wednesday
  • Since becoming U.S. president, Trump has touted an "America first" message of economic nationalism
  • "Keep in mind that it is a very important element of exports for the United States and you want to expand it and not contract it," Fyrwald said.

President Donald Trump must avoid making American farmers part of the collateral damage of his protectionist policies, according to the CEO of a major agriculture firm.

"Agriculture is one of the real bright spots for trade for the United States and the American farmers are extremely productive. So I think the Trump administration understands that this is an area where they want to promote more trade," Syngenta CEO Erik Fyrwald told CNBC Wednesday.

Since becoming U.S. president, Trump has touted an "America first" message of economic nationalism. In recent months, the former New York businessman has enacted some sweeping changes to U.S. trade policies, threatened to impose steep tariffs on imports and proposed hefty tax cuts.

However, while speaking on the sidelines of Fortune's Brainstorm Tech International conference in Guangzhou, China, Syngenta's Fyrwald said he believed Trump understood the importance of encouraging agricultural trade internationally.

When asked whether his message to the Trump administration would be to tread carefully in order to avoid the possibility of farmers becoming collateral damage, Fyrwald replied: "Yes."

"And keep in mind that it is a very important element of exports for the United States and you want to expand it and not contract it. It's good for the globe to expand trade and agricultural trade is one of those critical pieces," he added.