Free trade versus protectionism is a dominant theme at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, according to the president and CEO of Suntory.
The Japanese executive, Takeshi Niinami, argued that free trade agreements between countries, and market penetration are more important than ever in order to "reject the nation first concept."
Business leaders need to "support free trade penetrating to other countries" through large-scale agreements, which are "so important to resist the prevailing protectionism," Niinami told CNBC.
The CEO pointed to both NAFTA and the TPP-11 — the group of 11 countries that remained committed to forging a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2017 — as examples of such deals.
Trump's TPP decision, widely seen as a U.S. turn to protectionist behavior, falls in line with his "America First" rhetoric.