White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Friday labeled the ongoing standoff between the U.S. and several of its foreign allies over trade tariffs as "a trade discussion," dismissing the notion it has risen to the level of a "trade war."
A day after President Donald Trump slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the director of the National Economic Council framed the tenor of trade talks between the U.S. and other countries as more of a "family disagreement." Speaking to CNBC, Kudlow stressed that the U.S. and its counterparts remained in discussion.
"I'm just saying, look, let's talk. If you read the statements yesterday, we are in conversation," he said. "This is something of a family disagreement. It's a trade discussion. It's not a trade war. It's a trade discussion."
The remarks came just days after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro swiped at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for using the "trade war" label to describe the international economic disputes. Mnuchin commented last month that the Trump administration was “putting the trade war on hold” amid talks with China.
Navarro pushed back on the characterization during an interview with NPR on Wednesday.
“That was an unfortunate soundbite, basically for two reasons,” Navarro said of Mnuchin’s statement. “One is that what we’re having with China is a trade dispute, plain and simple. They engage in a whole range of unfair trade practices.”
He added: “The second thing is, the president has said we lost the trade war long ago."
Kudlow cast the levies imposed by Trump, which were met by swift retaliation from other nations, as a response to "unfair trading practices."
"We would like some cooperation, and we haven't really had that cooperation yet," Kudlow told the network. "We can fix this but we're going to need the help of our friends."