If the administration acts on Donald Trump’s protectionist campaign rhetoric, it could cripple the U.S. economy and lead to “crony capitalism,” former Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) CEO Bill George said this week.
George, who led Medtronic from 1991 to 2001, said Trump’s vow to reward businesses for bringing jobs back to the U.S. “would lead to crony capitalism” as companies look to catch the White House’s eye.
In Minnesota, home to the largest medical device cluster in the country and more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, exports were $20 billion in 2015. Mexico is the North Star State’s 2nd-largest trading partner, according to SCTimes.
“Global business has operated very much in Minnesota’s benefit,” George told the website. “If we go to America first, this could really harm Minnesota’s companies, harm our relationships, our ability to do business in China or Vietnam or Korea because that’s where the opportunities are, and that’s where a lot of companies have been putting their efforts in.”
“Globalization has gone a long ways in the last 20 years,” added Dave MacLennan, CEO at food & ag producer Cargill. “You can’t put that genie back in the bottle.
“Geopolitics are shifting and we are standing at the crossroads of some really important issues for business and for society,” MacLennan said in a speech at the University of St. Thomas this month, according to the site.
He and George are not alone it voicing their trepidation at the potential for any anti-free-trade action to wreak economic havoc. Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) this month warned of the risks posed to its business by the geopolitical shifts of the past year, including the U.S.’s threatened abrogation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.