75 percent of global CFOs expect to get smacked by US trade policy: CNBC survey

Key Points
  • Three-quarters of CFOs say U.S. trade policy will have a negative impact on their companies over the next six months, according to a CNBC Global CFO Council quarterly survey.
  • CFOs are making contingency plans and moving operations as a heated trade war looms.
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Rising trade tension, here's what corporations are expecting

The majority of executives believe the U.S. trade policy is expected to smack some of the world's largest companies over the next six months, according to the latest quarterly CNBC Global CFO Council survey.

Seventy-five percent of respondents are expecting some level of negative impact on their business, a significant jump in fears since last quarter; 37.5 percent of global respondents say their firms have already experienced higher input costs; 8.3 percent say they have already increased prices.

The CNBC Global CFO Council represents some of the largest public and private companies in the world, collectively managing nearly $5 trillion in market value across a wide variety of sectors.

The quarterly survey was conducted from Sept. 7–17, before the latest round in the growing trade spat between the United States and China. On Monday, President Donald Trump said he will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, prompting China to retaliate by announcing its plan to institute new tariffs on some $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

CFOs have already begun planning ahead for a full-blown trade war. More than half of worldwide respondents say their firms have developed contingency plans in case the situation continues to escalate; 9 percent of U.S. respondents say they have moved operations to minimize tariff impact.

Despite the rising concern over the United States and China being on the brink of a full-blown trade war, CFOs are more concerned over consumer demand. Nearly 46 percent of respondents say it is the biggest external risk factor currently facing their businesses, while only 10.4 percent of CFOs say trade policy is their biggest worry.

(Note: Forty-eight of the 113 current members of the CNBC Global CFO Council responded to this quarter's survey, including 22 North American-based members, 15 EMEA-based members and 11 APAC-based members. The survey was conducted from Sept. 7–17.)

Complete survey results below:

cfo council q3 survey region chart 2018

Region Q3 17 Q4 17 Q1 18 Q2 18 Q3 18
Africa/Middle EastStableStableStableStableStable
Asia Pacific ex. China and JapanStableImprovingImprovingImprovingStable
BrazilStableImprovingImprovingStableDeclining
CanadaStableImprovingStableStableStable
ChinaStableImprovingStableImprovingStable
Euro zone ex. UKImprovingImprovingImprovingStableStable
JapanStableImprovingStableStableStable
Latin America ex. BrazilStableStableStableStableDeclining
RussiaStableStableStableStableStable
United KingdomStableStableStableStableStable
United StatesImprovingImprovingImprovingImprovingImproving

North American respondents only: