President Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow has become increasingly cynical about the likelihood of a trade deal between the U.S. and China, which for the past seven months have been locked in an increasingly tense, back-and-forth tariff battle.
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“China is a problem,” Kudlow said on Wednesday during an interview with FOX Business’ Stuart Varney. “They have not responded to our asks, and it’s not just the trade deficit, per se. It’s the theft of [intellectual property].”
In a slap to the U.S., China in early October issued a new regulation granting police the power to inspect internet service providers and users, including those that belong to Americans, Kudlow said. According to the South China Morning Post, the legislation gives “few details about implementation,” making it difficult for foreign companies to circumvent possible repercussions.
“That’s outrageous,” Kudlow said. “They have been unsatisfactory. Me, I want to see a trade deal. I have become very cynical, because we’ve given our asks and China does not respond. I worry that they’re moving in the wrong direction, with a more closed economy and less liberal economy.”
But the director of the National Economic Council dismissed concerns that leaders in Beijing were biding their time to strike a trade deal in the hopes that Democrats win control of the House or Senate in the November elections. Even if that were to happen -- “I think it’s going to be very close,” he said -- Democrats are supportive of cracking down on Chinese trade practices.
“China will miscalculate if they think there’s going to be some type of change in November, regardless of who wins,” Kudlow said.
Trump’s tariffs on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese goods has drawn a rebuke from both members of the political aisle. In a signed letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 169 representatives -- including a number of House Republicans who are running in competitive midterm races -- urged the administration to reconsider granting some exclusions to American companies that have been adversely affected by the import taxes, according to CNBC.