Trump wants ‘free and open trade’, but tariffs have an end goal: Kudlow

While the White House’s chief economic adviser wouldn’t go as far as to say that President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs are a negotiating tactic to gain leverage for a free trade system, he did acknowledge that the president has a vision of free and open trade.

“As someone who has followed this for a very long time, the world trade system is broken. China is probably the biggest offender, but others are guilty, too,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday. “We should be able to do business. We should be able to come through with successful deals.”

The president spurred what some say is akin to an international trade war with traditional American allies – Canada, Mexico and the European Union – as well as with China when he announced the tariffs in February.

Since then, Trump has pushed forward with tariffs, including a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods containing “industrially significant technologies.” The president’s decision brought swift retribution, with Beijing responding in kind by slapping tariffs worth $34 billion on 545 American goods. Its tariffs, in total, will be worth about $50 billion.

Trump has repeatedly argued that tariffs will eliminate the $370 billion trade deficit with China and stop Beijing’s theft of U.S. intellectual property, which he’s said costs the U.S. billions of dollars each year. In May, China agreed to “significantly reduce” the deficit by boosting the amount of American goods it buys.

“The system is broken. The tariff walls and the non-tariff barriers and the subsidies have gone up around the world,” Kudlow said. “And his vision has always been a free trade vision. But to get there -- as he said in the G-7 meetings -- let’s be tariff free, let’s be non-tariff, barrier free.’