A majority of chief executives believe globalisation is under threat as the world moves to a more insular and protectionist phase. Some 57 per cent of survey respondents agreed with the proposition; 30 per cent disagreed and 10 per cent were unsure.

CEOs were particularly concerned about the potential rise of protectionism. "This poses a significant risk for NZ's export oriented economy," said the boss of one of New Zealand's largest exporters. His view was underlined by several agribusiness bosses who saw protectionism as their No 1. global threat.

A leading law firm boss said the reasons for the retreat from globalisation were understandable: "Paucity of leadership globally; big corporations cheating on tax and 'inequality' even though I don't like the expression.


"Governments have not delivered on the most basic requirements in many places -- security; corruption-free politics and leadership."

Said Dame Alison Paterson: "Events in the USA [support for Trump's views], in the UK [Brexit vote] and in Europe [reaction against Angela Merkel's stance on immigration] can not be ignored."

Some like Deloitte's Thomas Pippos felt the risk was over-blown, "In some cases there is no doubt more rhetoric than action but how Brexit plays out will be key."

Mainfreight group managing director Don Braid said "if you are referring to borders and the freedom to move between countries then certainly the world is becoming more insular."

But Braid said trade was increasing globally.

"From a protectionist perspective there are more trade agreements being done than ever before".

"The beneficiaries of globalisation have been the Asian middle classes," said a public sector boss. "The actual experience of many working class and middle class people in the developed world is that globalisation has made them poorer, not richer.

"This is driving a massive protectionist reaction."


Many of the chief executives- like Spark NZ's Simon Moutter -- believe that globalisation is unstoppable in a digital world

"Consumers will ultimately demand globalisation," said Xero's Anna Curzon.

"Protectionism will not trump (forgive the pun!) consumerism".

A local boss from a global manufacturing firm said globalization will continue but it will adjust to reflect the new normal." In it's current form it hasn't prevented protectionist policies/actions for the French farmers or NZ apples in Australia."