Trump’s America first is legitimate, protectionism is not – Italian Leader

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s desire to put “America first” is legitimate, but protectionism does not work, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni warned Wednesday.

“I consider it legitimate to say, my country first, I could say ‘Italy first,’ why not,” Gentiloni told reporters in Davos, responding to a question about Trump’s trade policies.

“But at the end of the day, what we need, if we want to have economic growth, and welfare, and protection for our workers … we need free trade, free markets and not protectionism,” he added.

The exclusive Swiss ski resort of Davos is hosting the annual World Economic Forum, attracting politicians and business leaders from across the globe.

Gentiloni said international audiences were looking with “great attention and curiosity” at the upcoming Italian general elections, due on March 4.

“There is a wish for the country not to derail from the path of economic recovery and budget rebalancing” recently undertaken, the prime minister said.

The election is a three-way race between Gentiloni’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), a conservative bloc led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S).

Berlusconi’s alliance leads in polls, with about 37 per cent, followed by the M5S and a PD-led alliance, both on around 27 per cent, according to the Termometro Politico website. (dpa/NAN)

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