World Economy

'Nobody wins from a global trade war,' a top European industrialist warns

Key Points
  • If the trade tensions between the U.S. and China escalate into a global trade war, no one will emerge victorious, according to one of Europe's top industrialists, Jim Hagemann Snabe. 
  • Snabe said that trade tensions could negatively affect global growth and that would cause a ripple effect on the economy, particularly in developing countries. 
  • The world's two largest economies have already applied tariffs to $50 billion of each other's goods. 
Siemens: Not yet seen an impact of trade tensions

No one will emerge as a winner if the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China escalate into a full-blown global trade war, one of Europe's leading industrialists warned on Friday.

With a strong growth average around the globe, the fundamentals of business remain "pretty good," and the trade tension is becoming a concern, Jim Hagemann Snabe, chairman of the supervisory board at Siemens, told CNBC at the Singapore Summit on Friday.

Snabe, who previously was co-CEO of German software company SAP, is also chairman of the board at Danish business conglomerate A.P. Moller - Maersk.

"It is concerning to see that the tensions grow," he said. "Right now, they don't have significant impact. They've been very targeted in certain categories. But of course, if this continues, it will have, in my opinion, a negative impact on growth and, with that, could have ripple effects on the economy — in particular in developing countries."

American officials are reportedly looking to have another round of high-level trade talks with their Chinese counterparts before the next round of tariffs are imposed. The U.S. is considering tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods for which a public comment period expired earlier this month. President Donald Trump raised the stakes further when he said he's ready to hit China with another $267 billion in tariffs. For its part, Beijing warned that it would retaliate.

The world's two largest economies have already applied tariffs to $50 billion of each other's goods.

While the impact of the existing tariffs have been fairly limited, Snabe said that an escalation would ultimately affect the global economy.

"The experience we've seen from the financial crisis 10 years ago is that the global economy is very connected," he said. "So, you cannot keep this as a bilateral conversation between two countries. It has effects on the entire value chain and, with that, it will have effects everywhere."

Many in the business community have expressed similar concerns, especially in the technology sector where most firms have supply chains around the world. American technology company Cisco's chairman and CEO recently told CNBC that the next round of tariffs could hit a lot of its "core networking products" and that the risk is "fairly significant."

A recent joint survey from the American Chamber of Commerce China and the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai found that many U.S. businesses in China are already feeling the negative impact from the initial $50 billion worth of tariffs from either country. Similarly, while Beijing holds firm, many Chinese companies are also acknowledging their worry about the trade war.

For his part, Snabe said he hopes that the next round of tariffs stay "at a level of warning and not escalate because nobody wins from a global trade war."