WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s top economics adviser acknowledged Sunday the trade dispute with U.S. allies could jeopardize the booming American economy but dismissed criticism of the administration’s stance as overblown.
Larry Kudlow’s remarks came after finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized countries on Saturday expressed outrage over US-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum and called on Washington to reverse course.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was especially irked by the U.S. invoking national security as justification for tariffs, calling it “frankly insulting and unacceptable.”
“The idea that our soldiers who have fought and died together in the mountains of Afghanistan and stood shoulder to shoulder, somehow this is insulting to them,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Kudlow played down the concerns in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“It think he’s overreacting,” he said of Trudeau. “As a fine friend and ally of the United States, nobody denies that. But the point is we have to protect ourselves.”
Kudlow acknowledged that the dispute over trade could jeopardize a U.S. economy that is now “clicking on all cylinders,” with surging growth and low unemployment.
“It might. I don’t deny that. You have to keep an eye on it,” he added.
But Kudlow defended Trump’s actions as aimed at reforming a global trading system rife with rule-breaking.
“Don’t blame Trump. Blame China, blame Europe, blame NAFTA. Blame those who don’t want reciprocal trading, tariff rates and protections. Trump is responding to several decades of trade abuses here,” he said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland warned in an interview on CNN that the U.S. tariffs would hurt American companies and consumers first and foremost.
“We know that beggar-thy-neighbor policies don’t work. That was the lesson of the 1920s and the 1930s,” she said. “And I really hope people will take some time to reflect on the lessons of history, and not go down that path again.”