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

  • 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.

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:

What is your assessment of the current economic situation in the following regions?

Q3 17
Q4 17
Q1 18
Q2 18
Q3 18
Africa/Middle East Stable Stable Stable Stable Stable
Asia Pacific ex. China and Japan Stable Improving Improving Improving Stable
Brazil Stable Improving Improving Stable Declining
Canada Stable Improving Stable Stable Stable
China Stable Improving Stable Improving Stable
Euro zone ex. UK Improving Improving Improving Stable Stable
Japan Stable Improving Stable Stable Stable
Latin America ex. Brazil Stable Stable Stable Stable Declining
Russia Stable Stable Stable Stable Stable
United Kingdom Stable Stable Stable Stable Stable
United States Improving Improving Improving Improving Improving
Source: CNBC Global CFO Survey, Q3 2018

North American respondents only: