US President Donald Trump is seeking to transform the world trading system which is “unfair” and has virtually no reciprocity, his top economic advisor said today, amid America’s trade tensions with China and key allies. “This president, from day one, wants to reform the world trading system. It is not working. And there is so much unfair trading and illegal trading practices,” Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council under President Donald Trump told Fox News.
The current world trade system, he argued, has “virtually” no reciprocity. “Tariff rates are not equal. Non-tariff barriers are not equal. The World Trade Organisation, which sets these rules, has been totally ineffectual. It has, in some cases, damaged the American economy, damaged American workers in manufacturing and other businesses,” Kudlow said. As a result, he argued, Trump has stepped up to the plate here. “And as somebody who is a free trader, I’ve got to say, if you don’t have a level playing field, you can’t operate free trade,” he said. Kudlow’s remarks came amidst increasing trade tension between the US and China, and several of the top American key allies and friends including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Kudlow said the ongoing North America Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA talks have not broken down. “We’re still having those conversations. We’re still having the steel talks with Canada. Take a look at the communique the White House put out, or the statement,” he said. “Good faith negotiations are welcome, and we hope to continue there. I don’t think things are broken down. I don’t want to be cavalier about anything. These are very serious matters that could affect the economy. There’s worries about that every place. So no, I don’t want to deny that,” the presidential advisor said. At the same time, he said that in the world trade game, rule breaking is all over the place.
“That’s why I think that the president is right. We have got to make reforms and we have to stand up for US interests as we go along. This is always…you know, don’t blame Trump, blame China, blame Europe, blame NAFTA, blame those who don’t want reciprocal trading, tariff rates and protectionism and Trump is responding to several decades of trade abuses here, really,” he said. Referring to the latest economic figures, Kudlow said the country is on the front end of what will turn out to be the best prosperity boom in several decades.
“The economy is clicking on all cylinders. As you noted, jobs and unemployment. Business investment is growing everywhere. Money is being repatriated. Trillions of dollars are coming back home to the US. This is all probably three per cent growth,” he said. “We’re right on the cusp of the 3 per cent growth. All our critics said we couldn’t have. The Atlanta Fed and other private forecasters are now looking for 4 percent growth in the second quarter. I hope we get there. I would take another 3 percent growth. The tax cuts and the rollback of regulations has created not only new incentives to grow, Chris, but also tremendous confidence, consumer surveys, business surveys, small business surveys,” Kudlow said.