Scheer says free trade believers must stick together against Trump protectionism

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says nations that believe in free trade need to present a united front against the protectionist moves coming out of the United States.

Scheer was speaking from London, where he is travelling for a week of meetings with British officials and politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May.

The trip comes during a big week in trade: International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne signed Canada onto the 11-member nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in Chile, then flies to Paraguay to launch free trade talks with the Mercosur trading bloc — the second-biggest in the Western Hemisphere after NAFTA, including South America’s two biggest economies, Brazil and Argentina.

On the flip side Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced new steel and aluminum tariffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively — a subject Scheer said came up in many of his meetings this week. Although Canada is being exempted from the tariffs pending the outcome of NAFTA talks.

Countries like Canada and the U.K. that believe in free trade need to work together to convince the U.S. that protectionism is not the right path, Scheer said.

“Countries that are committed to free trade need to help each other and work together to deal with these types of issues as they come out of the United States,” said Scheer.

The world managed to avoid the temptation of protectionism following the 2008 global recession, and those who believe in its benefits need to change the minds of those that don’t, he added.

Scheer met with a number of different members of the British cabinet since his arrival, including foreign minister Boris Johnson and trade minister Liam Fox. However, the matter of tariffs did not come up during Scheer’s conversation with May, where they stuck to the topic of free trade between Canada and the United Kingdom.

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