We should dedicate the 'utmost effort' to strengthening the open trade system: Asian Development Bank

  • "Open trade and investment regime is so important, we should continue to have our utmost effort to maintain and strengthen the system," said Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asian Development Bank.
  • Nakao's comments came as officials from the U.S. and China convene in Beijing to iron out their trade tensions.

Countries around the world have benefited from open trade and investment and they should now put in their "utmost effort" to maintain and strengthen that system, according to Takehiko Nakao, president of the Asian Development Bank.

Nakao's comments came as officials from the U.S. and China convene in Beijing to iron out their trade tensions — a meeting that's widely watched by investors globally.

"Open trade and investment regime is so important, we should continue to have our utmost effort to maintain and strengthen the system," Nakao told CNBC's Oriel Morrison at an ADB meeting in Manila in the Philippines.

He added that trade over the past year has been responsible for lifting growth in many countries, some of which weren't growing before picking up again recently. The U.S. is among those that benefited, although the Trump administration has been arguing against free trade, which it blames for hurting American workers and companies.

Nakao acknowledged that some workers may have been sidelined in an open trade system. But governments should address that, and it shouldn't come at the expense of free trade, he added.

"What is the most important is to look at the benefit side of trade and we should keep and strengthen open trade and investment system, although we must address those issues on workers," he said.