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Return to protectionism a ‘profound mistake’, UK finance chief warns Trump – POLITICO

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DAVOS — Britain’s top finance minister Jeremy Hunt has warned Donald Trump that a return to U.S. protectionism would be a “profound mistake” if he wins the U.S. election in November.

Speaking during a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Hunt hit out at the Republican party frontrunner’s proposal for a universal tariff on all goods imported into the U.S.

Asked by POLITICO if he was concerned about the impact on the U.K. economy “if the U.S. elects a protectionist candidate for president like Donald Trump”, Hunt replied: “I don’t support protectionist measures. I think they harm the people who introduce them as much as the people they are aimed at.”

Hunt argued that a “huge flourishing of global trade” has helped to lessen poverty around the world, adding: “It would be a profound mistake to move back to protectionism.”

In an interview with Fox News in August last year, Trump floated an automatic 10 percent tariff on all goods imported to the U.S.

During his first term as U.S. president, Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and declared that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

Hunt’s comments will be seen as a direct rebuke of the U.S. Republican frontrunner, who has had a mixed relationship with senior U.K. politicians in the past.

Trump was known to hold a low opinion of former PM Theresa May, whom he undermined during her time in Downing Street. The former president was closer to her successor Boris Johnson, however — even giving Johnson his private phone number.

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