White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro dismissed concerns that President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs worth more than $50 billion on 1,300 Chinese products could spur an international trade war.
“This is not going to be settled by a fight, but through negotiations,” Navarro told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney during an interview on Friday. “We have in the White House the best negotiator in the world who knows the art of the deal.”
The Trump administration announced the tariffs Thursday afternoon in hopes of curtailing intellectual property theft in Beijing. A full list of products that will be subject to the tariff will be released within 15 days of Trump signing the order. In addition to tariffs, the administration will impose investment restrictions on China and file a case with the World Trade Organization. A trade investigation found that China had conducted cybertheft from U.S. companies.
U.S. stocks suffered heavy losses that continued into Friday amid investor fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 425 points, and the S&P 500 notched its worst week in more than two years.
“All we’re looking for, as the president has said, is fair and reciprocal trade,” Navarro said. “We run a $347 billion trade deficit in goods with China every year. What does that do? We ship off our money to China and the factories, and they get the jobs, and they get the wealth. We also have a large trade deficit with Europe.”
Navarro said the U.S. has no interest in conflict with China and Trump is simply strategically protecting America’s interest.
“We have no interest in conflict with China. We’re simply trying to defend the American people and the American company from, what is essentially, according to the National Security Council, economic aggression by a strategic rival,” he said.
The Chinese tariffs come on the heels of an earlier plan by the president to impose tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, although he eventually granted exemptions to the European Union, Australia and South Korea.
“I can assure this country and the aluminum and steel industries that they will have their interest defended,” Navarro said. “And I can assure the world we will have a better and stronger trading system because of Donald Trump’s leadership.”