Trade uncertainty is something no business leader is comfortable with. Trade war initiatives by the Trump administration, in the name of protecting intellectual property and national security, are now taking their toll on global businesses and raising concerns among business leaders.

While U.S. has imposed tariffs on imported goods worth billions of dollars from its traditional trading partners, China and other trading countries like India and Turkey have announced retaliatory measures in terms of imposing similar tariffs on U.S. goods. (See also: Trump Trade Talk Has Cost Market $1 Trillion: JPM.)

A recent quarterly survey conducted by CNBC reveals that nearly two thirds of business leaders are feeling the heat of the looming trade war.

Uncertainty Everywhere

Trade uncertainty around U.S. policies has emerged as the biggest risk for the global corporations.

Responded to by the CFOs of various global corporations, the second-quarter survey results indicate that around 35% are concerned that U.S. trade policy could be the biggest risk for their business. The figure is considerably higher than the 27% recorded during the first quarter of this year and more than three times the 11.6% recorded during the last quarter of the previous year.

Though President Trump’s policies are promising strong GDP numbers and local job growth aided by profit-friendly tax cuts for the corporates, around 65% of North American CFOs fear a negative impact on their business over the next six months due to  the U.S. trade policy. Some 20% among them believe that the impact would be "very negative.” Similarly, around 66% of the Asia-Pacific-region CFOs expect a negative impact on their business.

Though tax cuts and tax reform initiatives are hailed by nearly 60% of the American business leaders, 40% of them express their inability to take full advantage of the offerings owing to the uncertainty around trade policies.

Sectors of Success?

Sector wise, Technology (39.5%) remains the hot favorite for growth expectations over the next six months. It is followed by Financials, Consumer Discretionary and Energy sectorsall three getting the similar result (9.3%) in the survey. (See also: 3 Sectors to Buy in a Trade War.)

On questions of macroeconomics, more than half (53.5%) believe that the U.S. Fed will raise interest rates three times in 2018, while around 28% opine that Fed will go for two rate hikes. There is great uncertainty about the levels that the Dow Jones Industrial Average index will achieve. Results indicate that respondents appeared completely uncertain whether it will hit first 27,000 or decline to 23,000. (See also:  The Impact of a Fed Interest Rate Hike.)

Around half of the respondents reported no impact from Brexit on their business, though more than 72% are concerned about the impact of Italy leaving the eurozone.

The CNBC Global CFO Council represents some of the largest public and private companies in the world, collectively managing more than $4.5 trillion in market capitalization across a wide variety of sectors. Forty-three of the 103 current members of the CNBC Global CFO Council responded to this quarter's survey, including 20 North American-based members, 17 EMEA-based members and 6 Asia-Pacific-region-based members. The survey was conducted from June 1–17, 2018 (as reported by CNBC).

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