Li Ka-shing says US, China should find a way out of disputes

Billionaire Li Ka-shing appears for last CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. annual general meeting as chairman. (Bloomberg pic)

HONG KONG: Billionaire Li Ka-shing said a trade war between the US and China will hurt both the countries and urged the world’s two biggest economies to end the dispute soon.

“I certainly hope the two find a way,” Li told reporters after a university event on June 29 in southern China. “I certainly don’t want to see the trade war getting worse. Both countries are going to lose.” The spat will inflict pain on Hong Kong as well, he added.

Unless President Donald Trump backtracks, the US on July 6 will impose 25% tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, with further levies on another US$16 billion in imports under consideration. China has threatened to impose countervailing duties the same day and vowed retaliation of “the same scale and intensity.”

The city’s richest man is the latest voice beseeching the two countries to step back from the brink as manufacturers globally warned consumers will suffer from rising costs due to the announced tariffs. General Motors Co. last week told the Trump administration that the tariffs could force it to cut jobs while Volvo Car Group owner Li Shufu said carmakers will need to start building factories in each market to avoid the levies.

Li, 89, whose net worth is about US$32 billion, has been the face of Hong Kong during an era when a handful of Chinese immigrants built large empires across Asia. The conglomerate he founded span retail, energy, ports to telecommunications worldwide. The tycoon formally stepped down in May as the head of his group, ending a nearly seven-decade career.