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Trump urged to push ahead with trillion-dollar infrastructure plans by global finance execs

Silvia Amaro

A major new spending plan for buildings, roads and power supplies should be the number one priority for the U.S. administration this year, according to a new CNBC survey of global finance chiefs.

The chief financial officers (CFO) from some of the world's largest companies told CNBC that President Donald Trump should move ahead with his plans to shore up infrastructure across the country.

The massive infrastructure plan, which could total $1.5 trillion according to Trump's State of the Union speech this year, is currently stuck at the U.S. Congress stage as lawmakers cannot agree over the level of spending as well as over the streamlining of environmental regulations. Media reports suggest that the president will hit the road this spring to gather public support for his plans.

Fifty percent of U.S.-based CFOs said in the survey that infrastructure should be the top priority, with 18.2 percent saying that trade should be the number one policy. Even most of the European-based CFOs believed that the top priority in the U.S. should be infrastructure spending, at 36.4 percent of respondents. CFOs in the Asian-Pacific region gave an equal weight between trade and infrastructure.

Europe has been ones of the most vocal U.S. allies criticizing the recent decision to put tariffs on steel and aluminum. The region is still hoping to be excluded from the new metal tariffs but, in the meantime, it has already prepared countermeasures — raising fears over a potential trade war.

Meanwhile, gun policy was placed third in the survey. More than 27 percent of Europe-based CFOs said that this should be a priority for the White House. Trump is set to support some small amendments to gun laws after a mass school shooting in Florida.

Other U.S.-based CFOs raised fiscal health and a balanced budget in the survey. This has also been mentioned as a concern by some analysts, who believe that recent policies to reduce corporate and individual taxes will deteriorate the country's finances.

The tax bill approved in December reduced the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent and lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

The survey was conducted from March 9 to March 20, 2018. Among the 105 members of CNBC's Global CFO Council, 38 responded to the survey (22 North America, 11 EMEA, and 5 APAC). See full results below.