Newly-appointed National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow defended President Trump on Wednesday against worries that his trade policies are contributing to market volatility, and said the trade problem is China’s fault, not Trump’s.
“Blame China, not President Trump. Because they’ve been going on for many years. Trump is really the first president to fight back and to put a shot across the bow – stealing intellectual property rights, technology transfers, high barriers, investment limitations, high tariffs,” Kudlow said.
China announced Wednesday that it will respond to Trump’s tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods by imposing its own tariffs on 106 U.S. products, many of which come from states Trump carried in the 2016 election. The move was almost immediately followed by a sharp decline in the stock market.
Trump downplayed the idea that the two countries were in a trade war, and said the U.S. already lost the trade war with China years ago.
“That war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent people who represented the U.S. Now we have a trade deficit of $500 billion a year, with intellectual property theft of another $300 billion. We cannot let this continued,” he tweeted.
Trump continued, “When you’re already $500 billion DOWN, you can’t lose!”
Kudlow appeared confused by the president’s tweets, telling reporters at the White House: “I’m not sure what exactly he’s referring to.”
“The president is the president. He wants to tweet, he’s going to tweet. That’s the way it works here,” he told Fox Business earlier Wednesday. But he seemed to agree with Trump’s take, and noted that the tariffs so far are just proposed measures.
“President Trump is going to deal with it. There’s no trade war here. What you’ve got is the early stages of a process that will include tariffs, comments on the tariffs, and then decisions and negotiations,” he added.
Kudlow’s defense of the president comes just one month after he warned of potential economic consequences if the president moved forward with his plan to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement and hike tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.