J.P. Morgan boss Jamie Dimon is adding his voice to the Corporate America chorus that’s criticizing President Donald Trump’s tariff plan.
The bank chief executive delivered the following assessment in a Bloomberg TV interview:
“We don’t believe these tariffs. … There are serious issues around trade. The WTO needs to get its act together and get a little more ambitious in terms of fixing some of these problems, but I think tariffs is the wrong way to go about it.”
Dimon’s comment at least signals some agreement with Trump on the World Trade Organization. The WTO has been attacked by the White House for “losing its essential focus,” and analysts say the president’s plan to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum may eventually give the administration an excuse to walk out on the global commercial arbiter.
The J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -0.37% CEO’s comments came as Trump is expected to sign a decree this week that lays out his plan for tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The much-anticipated signing could come as soon as Thursday afternoon.
Concerns about a possible global trade war have been intensifying, due to Trump’s plan to introduce those levies and due to the resignation Tuesday of Gary Cohn, who had been a pro-trade White House adviser. Trade-war fears have weighed on markets this month, leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.33% down 0.9% so far in March.
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Dimon spelled out reasons why he’s worried.
“There may be retaliation. It kind of opens up a whole Pandora’s box of additional problems,” he said in the TV interview. “It could escalate. It could hurt growth. I don’t know. I’m not predicting it, but I think you should expect more.”
The tariffs could just be a negotiating tactic, the bank boss added.
“I hope it also brings people to the table to negotiate, and I hope the Americans are being very specific with the Chinese, Mexico, Canada — saying, ‘Here’s what we think is fair. Here’s what we want,’” Dimon said.
“Have a mature conversation and get it done. And the president and his people legitimately say, ‘Hey, we’ve been having some of these dialogs for 15 years, and they don’t work.’ So this is kind of a shot out there,” he said, while making a punching move with his right hand.
White House officials have said Trump may spare both Canada and Mexico in his tariff plan for aluminum and steel.
Most business leaders want the Trump administration to talk further with trading partners, rather than impose tariffs now, according to Dimon.
“Set out a strategy, organize it properly, tell people what you want, negotiate it, and if you don’t get it, sure, then take action,” the CEO advised.