Donald Trump will cause 'global trauma' if he imposes tariffs on China, boss of world's biggest mining company warns

Jack Nasser warned Mr Trump’s plan to impose tariffs of up to 45 per cent on Chinese products could be the precursor to a trade war

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The Independent Online

The executives from BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, have urged Donald Trump not to tear up the Paris climate change agreement, while warning the world will be in “trauma” if the President-elect imposes tariffs on China.

The comments from Andrew Mackenzie and Jack Nasser, the chief executive and chairman of BHP Billiton respectively, come despite the fact that the company’s shares have rallied in the days following Mr Trump’s shock victory based on perceptions that raw materials producers will benefit from his planned infrastructure programme in the US.

Speaking to the company’s shareholders in Brisbane on Thursday, Mr Mackenzie said it was crucial to have the US and China aligned on a climate change response.

He said: “We do hope that President-elect Trump doesn’t actually tear up the agreement of the United States to support that and also the very strong bond that President Obama and Xi Jinping forged on that because we see this is a strong foundation for future action.”

Meanwhile, Mr Nasser warned Mr Trump’s plan to impose tariffs of up to 45 per cent on Chinese products could be the precursor to a trade war.

He said: “The whole world will start to be in complete trauma if tariffs level of that size and magnitude are put on across the world.”

However, Mr Nasser is betting on a more moderate President than the one who promised to rip up free trade agreements.

He added: “I can’t explain Donald Trump for you.”

“What you have seen in the US political scene is quite a lot of rhetoric.

“Some of it will happen and some of it won’t. We should wait and see what the key appointments are. Then it will become more clear.”

The President-elect had previously claimed that despite being America’s biggest trading partner, a trade war was already under way and that China was a “currency manipulator”.

Mr Trump has also already appointed a prominent climate change denier to run his transition team covering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other advisers include people with close links to the fossil fuel industry.

He pledged to scrap the United States’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which President Barack Obama has hailed as “the moment that we finally decided to save our planet”.

Leading climate scientists have expressed dismay and concern about Mr Trump’s election, suggesting it could be an “unmitigated disaster for the planet”.

Meanwhile, China has threatened to cut cut iPhone sales and order planes from Airbus instead of Boeing if Donald Trump decides to embark upon a trade war.