Newly-appointed Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday defended Trump’s China policy and called the president a “free trader” despite trade policies that appear to be protectionist.
Trump’s proposed tariffs on China – which could reach $60 billion – are meant to force Beijing to stop stealing America’s intellectual property, said Kudlow.
“China technology transfer is China’s stealing of American intellectual property rights, the Chinese counterfeiting of American goods, the Chinese tariffs and barriers have got to stop,” Kudlow told radio host John Catsimatidis. President Trump “regards himself as a free trader,” continued Kudlow, but “the path to free trade must be to correct unfair trading practices, of which, frankly John, China is guilty.”
Trump has also hit China with tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in addition to the recently announced 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum. China has reacted to the offenses by proposing $3 billion in reciprocal tariffs, including taxes that will disproportionately affect farmers in states that voted for Trump.
“I must say, as someone who doesn’t like tariffs, I think China has earned a tough response,” said Kudlow during an interview with CNBC. “A thought that I have is that the United States could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China or to let China know that they are breaking the rules left and right.”
Kudlow publicly criticized Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs when they were originally announced, but has since accepted them as part of the president’s negotiating strategy.
“My problem with the steel and aluminum tariffs…it might do harm to American users of steel and aluminum,” said Kudlow, adding that he was “relieved” when Trump proposed excluding Canada, Mexico, and Australia. “I just don’t like blanket tariffs,” he continued, “and I don’t think you should punish your friends, you should try to punish your enemies, in international affairs.”
Kudlow also blamed the recent 1,400-point drop in the stock market on the “US-China tariff argument.”
Kudlow, a former CNBC host, was appointed earlier this month to replace Gary Kohn, who resigned abruptly after Trump announced the tariffs on aluminum and steel.