BHP pushes free trade agenda

Andrew Mackenzie moves against protectionism; backs Howes' IR ‘grand compact’.

The chief executive of BHP Billiton (BHP), Andrew Mackenzie, has urged an end to protectionism measures so the global economy can seize the full benefits of free trade deals, according to The Australian.

Mr Mackenzie, who heads the trade division of the business advisory group for this year’s G20, said companies were eager to see a “standstill” on protectionism measures, which have filtered through the global economy since the financial crisis.

"Although the world does move forward in a fairly slow way, to capture some of the benefits of free trade it quite frequently takes steps backwards, and there is a degree of protectionism," Mr Mackenzie said, according to The Australian. "And so vigilance and, if you like, an evangelism, of sorts, are certainly required."

Meanwhile, Mr Mackenzie has also weighed into the industrial relations debate, backing calls from union heavyweight Paul Howes for a ‘grand compact’.

“I certainly welcome him putting the things on the table,” he said, according to The Australian Financial Review.

On Wednesday Mr Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, said he was hoping to end the political "blood sport" on IR by bringing together business and unions.