LONDON • The prospect of billionaire businessman Donald Trump winning the US presidency represents a global threat on a par with Islamist militancy destabilising the world economy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a British research group.
In the latest version of its Global Risk assessment, the EIU ranked victory for the Republican front runner at 12 on an index where the current top threat is a Chinese economic "hard landing", rated 20.
Justifying the threat level, the EIU highlighted Mr Trump's alienation from China as well as his comments on Islamist extremism, saying a proposal to stop Muslims from entering the United States would be a "potent recruitment tool for jihadi groups".
It also raised the spectre of a trade war under a Trump presidency and pointed out that his policies "tend to be prone to constant revision".
"He has been exceptionally hostile towards free trade, including notably Nafta (the North American Free Trade Agreement), and has repeatedly labelled China as a 'currency manipulator'," it said.
Comparing global risks
EIU ranks global risks on an ascending scale of one to 25
*China experiences a hard landing.
*Russia's interventions in Ukraine and Syria precede a new ''cold war''.
*Currency volatility culminates in an emerging markets corporate debt crisis.
*Beset by external and internal pressures, the EU begins to fracture.
*''Grexit'' is followed by a euro zone break-up.
*Donald Trump wins the US presidential election.
*The rising threat of Islamic terrorism destabilises the global economy
*The UK votes to leave the EU.
*Chinese expansionism prompts a clash of arms in the South China Sea.
"He has also taken an exceptionally right-wing stance on the Middle East and jihadi terrorism, including, among other things, advocating the killing of families of terrorists and launching a land incursion into Syria to wipe out IS (and acquire its oil)." IS is another name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
By comparison, the unit gave a possible armed clash in the South China Sea a rating of eight - the same as that for the threat posed by Britain leaving the European Union - and ranked an emerging market debt crisis at 16.
A Trump victory, it said, would at least scupper the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and 11 other American and Asian states signed last month, while "his hostile attitude to free trade, and alienation of Mexico and China in particular, could escalate rapidly into a trade war".
"There are risks to this forecast, especially in the event of a terrorist attack on US soil or a sudden economic downturn," it added.
However, the EIU said it did not expect Mr Trump to defeat his most likely Democratic opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton, in an election and pointed out that Congress would likely block some of his more radical proposals if he won the Nov 8 election.
Rated at 12 alongside the prospect of a Trump presidency was the threat of ISIS, which the EIU said risked ending a five-year bull run on US and European stock markets if terrorist attacks escalated.
The break-up of the euro zone following a Greek exit from the bloc was rated 15, while the prospect of a new "cold war" fuelled by Russian interventions in Ukraine and Syria was put at 16.
In Sydney, Australian Industry Minister Christopher Pyne called Mr Trump's campaign for the White House "terrifying" and warned that it risked casting the Republican Party out into the wilderness if he won the party's nomination.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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