Sir John Sunderland, president of the Confederation of British Industry, has blasted countries such as the US and France for protecting their markets from competition.

Speaking at the CBI's annual conference, Sir John said: “It seems clear that protectionism is an insidious parasite in the so-called free trade ecosystems of many developed countries.”

He singled out France as “the most sublime example proclaiming Danone to be a 'national champion' of strategic importance”.