• Jes Staley sees parallels with Britain’s Brexit vote
  • Election rhetoric ‘questioning the vision of globalization’

Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley said the candidates in the U.S. presidential race risk a “substantial impact” on the global economy with their skepticism toward free-trade agreements.

“Some of the narrative of the election in the United States is very much around questioning the vision of globalization and free trade as instruments of global policy,” Staley, 59, said at a banking conference in New York on Monday. “You see the position of both candidates with respect to the free-trade agreements, and that could have a very significant and substantial impact long-term on the global economy.’’

Jes Staley
Jes Staley
Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Staley didn’t mention Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump by name. Trump has excoriated China as an unfair trading partner, and has blamed politicians including Clinton for their support of free-trade deals. Clinton, for her part, has vowed to stand up to China and pledged to stop any trade deal that destroys jobs or depresses wages, including the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, though she has also said the U.S. shouldn’t “cut ourselves off from the world.”

Staley, an American who took on the CEO job at Britain’s second-largest bank last year, noted that the U.K. vote to leave the European Union in June also demonstrated an increased resistance to global integration.

“As a geopolitical matter, at least in my lifetime, the developed world has seen free trade and globalization and the integration of the global economy as a worthwhile endeavor to try to seek global peace and global cooperation,” Staley said. Brexit “was the first major move by a developed nation to pull back.”

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