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Tech protectionism would risk a new dark age, says the UK’s Hunt

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LONDON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that Western countries and their allies should avoid the temptation to erect protectionist trade barriers in a bid to gain a technological edge.

“The strategic choice facing the world now is to all say ‘we’ll do it ourselves’ and go back to protectionism, which would put global growth back into the dark ages?” Hunt said at an event hosted by Politico.

“Or do we recognize the benefits of free trade and say that, among friends, allies, and people who share democratic values, we will build resilient supply chains that we know will weather any global storms we face?”

Britain has expressed concern that US subsidies would boost investment in industries such as clean energy in the US and have prompted the European Union to develop similar measures.

Hunt said Britain will remain competitive on innovation.

“In the end, the thing that makes you competitive is the quality of your ideas, not the amount of your grants,” he said.

Hunt also said it is not possible for countries to give up the race to develop artificial intelligence.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Kylie MacLellan)