January 21, 2017 / 8:00 PM / 4 years ago

France's Hollande criticizes protectionism as 'worst response'

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet and her French counterpart Francois Hollande attend a visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, during Hollande's official visit to the country, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - France’s President Francois Hollande on Saturday criticized protectionism and with his Chilean counterpart said that Europe would look to strengthen ties with Latin America, speaking a day after U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

Hollande said international relations should be guided by multilateralism with a role for the United Nations, contrasting with Trump’s calls for tighter borders and an “America First” approach during his first speech as president on Friday.

“Protectionism is the worst response. It is the answer that ultimately impedes trade, hinders growth and even affects employment, including in countries that advocate for and implement it,” Hollande said.

On Monday, Hollande responded to Trump’s criticism of the European Union by saying the bloc did not need to be told what to do by outsiders.

With Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet, Hollande said both countries wanted climate change agreements to be respected and that Chile and the European Union would update their free trade agreement.

“There are ongoing discussions between Europe and Latin America, and we will also look to establish a special relationship with the Pacific Alliance,” he said referring to the bloc made up of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.

The Mercosur trade bloc that includes Brazil and Argentina is also seeking a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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