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Trump Is ‘First President to Fight Back’ Against China, Kudlow Says

It's time to let the 'world know' that this commander-in-chief 'means business' when it comes to trade and tariffs

President Donald Trump is “really the first president to fight back” against China’s unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Wednesday on Fox Business Networks’ “Varney & Co.”

“Blame China — not President Trump — because [the unfair trade practices] have been going on for many years,” Kudlow said. “Trump is really the first president to fight back and to put a shot across the bow.”

Trump announced Tuesday that his administration will impose 25 percent tariffs on roughly 1,300 Chinese products, totaling $50 billion, to begin after May 11 to clamp down on the Asian giant’s trade abuses.

The president also imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on China last month. China retaliated by announcing tariffs on U.S. products such as aluminum, pork, beef, planes, chemicals and fruit, totaling $3 billion.

Despite backlash from both the U.S. and abroad, Kudlow argued there was “absolutely not” a trade war going on and that Trump had made the right decision.

Kudlow said it was high time that the U.S. took action against China’s intellectual property rights thefts, technology transfers, high barriers, investment limitations, and high tariffs.

“This stuff is really not just unfair — it’s unlawful. It’s outside the boundaries of the WTO [World Trade Organization],” Kudlow said. “Every country in the world knows this. Every analyst knows this is the case. Somebody’s got to deal with it. President Trump is going to deal with it.”

Although Kudlow said he understood “the stock market’s anxiety” in the wake of Trump’s and China’s tariff announcements, he insisted that “there’s no trade war here.”

“What you’ve got is the early stages of a process that will include tariffs, comments on the tariffs, then ultimate decisions and negotiations. There’s already back channel talks going on,” Kudlow noted. “I understand the stock market’s anxiety. I get that. But on the other hand, don’t overreact. We’ll see how this works out.”

By the time the U.S. and China have gone through the negotiating process, Kudlow predicted that there would be a “pot of gold” at “the end of the rainbow.”

“And if you open up that pot, you will see better economic growth, more trading going on, improved wages for both sides,” Kudlow said. “So I think this is right, fair. Trump’s putting his cards on the table. He’s standing up for this country, but he’s also standing up for better world trade.”

Related: Trump’s Tariffs Said to ‘Fulfill His Campaign Promises’ to Put ‘America First’

Although Kudlow admitted that he personally isn’t “a fan of tariffs” because he’s a “free trader” by nature, he said he was firmly convinced that Trump “is completely right to take these actions.” Saying that Trump regards himself as a “free trader” as well, Kudlow argued that the path to “real free trade” must include “tremendous reforms and stopping these illegal and unfair trading practices.”

The path to “real free trade” must include “tremendous reforms and stopping these illegal and unfair trading practices.”

“The message is clear — China has got to stop these unfair and illegal trading violations. They must. They’ve done it for years. They’re operating outside the WTO,” Kudlow said. “So this has got to stop. It’s a free trade action at the end of the day, which is pro-growth. But we’re going to have to grind it out and let the rest of the world know that President Trump and the USA mean business.”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].