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TPP loss 'a huge shame': Wesfarmers chair

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Peter Trute

Michael Chaney © AAP Image/Richard Wainwright Michael Chaney Wesfarmers chairman Michael Chaney has criticised US President-elect Donald Trump's threat to end the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, saying restricting free trade causes economic stagnation.

In a speech to Wesfarmers' annual general meeting in Perth on Thursday, Mr Chaney said "populist" dissent had led to criticism of free trade in recent years but warned that free trade had delivered increased prosperity, higher employment and better standards of living.

"Restricting free trade leads to a reversal of those things - to stagnation," he said.

Answering a shareholder's question after the formal business ended, Mr Chaney said he hoped Mr Trump would not be as extreme as he threatened during his election campaign.

"Any move to restrict free trade, which of course was in Mr Trump's - now President-elect Trump's - policy would be very detrimental. And Australia of course has always relied on international trade for its prosperity," Mr Chaney said.

Mr Chaney said Mr Trump's abandoning of the TPP "would be a huge shame".

"It was a really important step forward in what ought to be eventually multilateral trade agreement between all countries," he said.

"Time will tell. It may be that President-elect Trump governs with a less extreme version of things than he electioneered with but one can only hope."

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