Chief of Taiwan's Foxconn says rise of protectionism unavoidable

The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company's headquarters in New Taipei City, Taiwan March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - The head of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronic goods and a major Apple Inc supplier, said on Sunday that the rise of protectionism is unavoidable.

Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, warned that uncertainties for this year make it tough to have a very clear analysis and outlook, but he said it was clear politics would underpin economic development.

His remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to put ‘America First’ in his inauguration speech Friday, reinforcing concerns of a U.S. protectionist agenda that has cast a cloud over the outlook on global trade. [nL1N1FA0FO]

“The rise of protectionism is unavoidable,” Gou said. “Secondly, the trend of politics serving the economy is clearly defined.”

Gou, who did not directly refer to Trump, gave his remarks in a speech to an audience of employees and senior company executives at an annual company event on Sunday.

Taiwan’s tech-dominated manufacturers are nervous about potential U.S. trade policies because Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on imports from some countries, notably China.

Foxconn is one of the biggest employers in China where it operates factories that churn out most of Apple’s iconic iPhones. In December, Foxconn said it was in preliminary discussions to expand its U.S. operations. [nL4N1E22CK]

Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Christian Schmollinger