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Business

Corporate Asia on edge over Trump's protectionism

A BHP Billiton copper mine in Australia.

TOKYO -- Asia's corporate leaders appear alarmed over potential protectionist U.S. trade policy under a President Donald Trump.

But investors are looking at the positive, surging into companies that could benefit from plans for infrastructure.

Mike Henry, president of Australian mining operations at Anglo-Australian resources giant BHP Billiton, spoke uneasily of Trump's stance on trade at an industry meeting late Wednesday. It is in the company's interest "for there to be strong global economic growth, which is why we have been so focused on more free trade, a reduction in protectionism," he said.

Compal Electronics CEO Ray Chen touched on the president-elect's pledge to invigorate American manufacturing during the Taiwanese contract manufacturer's earnings briefing. While the impact on Compal's core computer and tablet business will be slim, products that can be easily mass-produced with the help of automation could see a greater shift, he said.

Investors are more upbeat. Resource stocks on the Australian Securities Exchange hit their highest level in around a year on Thursday, fueled by hopes that Trump's pledge to invest in infrastructure such as airports would spur demand for mineral resources. BHP Billiton rose as much as 9.8% in intraday trading, while Rio Tinto climbed as much as 9.2%.

CEO Vincent Chong of Singapore Technologies Engineering said having Trump, who has pledged to enlarge the U.S. military, in the White House would be a positive for the defense manufacturer. The U.S. market accounted for 25% of the company's July-September sales.

The Century Properties group of the Philippines has said the election outcome will boost business for its Trump Tower condominium development nearing completion in Metropolitan Manila, for which it has licensed the Trump brand. The arrangement came about after Robbie Antonio, the son of Century's chairman and the condo project's managing director, became acquainted with Trump's daughter Ivanka in New York, Antonio told a Philippine newspaper.

(Nikkei)

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