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Ex-White House adviser Cohn says tariffs didn't help reach trade deals

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on January 21, 2020 - Duration: 02:03s

Ex-White House adviser Cohn says tariffs didn't help reach trade deals

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn on Sunday said Washington's tariffs impeded U.S. economic growth, working at cross-purposes with a tax cut meant to stimulate business investment.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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Ex-White House adviser Cohn says tariffs didn't help reach trade deals

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Today we take a momentous step, one that has never been taken before with China." President Donald Trump this week touted what is being billed as a "Phase 1" trade deal with China, which rolls back some American tariffs on Chinese exports in exchange for a pledge from Beijing to buy more American products.

But critics say the deal falls short of the pledges Trump's trade team made when they launched a war of tit-for-tat tariffs.

And on Sunday those critics were joined by the president's own former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER GARY COHN, SAYING: "This did not address the big issue, the big issue the president and I agreed upon, is that the Chinese have been stealing our intellectual property.

They've been infringing on our trade marks.

They've been infringing on our copyright.

It has not addressed that.

Gary Cohn was the chief White House economic adviser up until 2018, and he helped craft the administration's signature piece of domestic legislation, a tax reform bill.

Cohn reportedly parted ways with the administration over Trump's trade policy, which leaned heavily on punitive tariffs.

On Sunday (January 16) Cohn told CBS he did not believe the tariffs made a difference in trade talks-- (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER GARY COHN, SAYING: "I don't think the tariffs helped us get to any different outcome." -- and said that the steel and aluminum tariffs in particular may have impaired U.S. economic growth.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER GARY COHN, SAYING: "The minute a company's thinking about spending capital, what do you go out and buy?

You go out and buy steel and aluminum.

That's how you build factories.

That's how you build property plant and equipment.

So all of a sudden the advantages that we were trying to give companies, to help stimulate the economy, to build facilities, to go out and hire people, to drive wages, we took away that advantage by taxing the input that they needed to build.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CBS ANCHOR MARGARET BRENNAN, SAYING: "You're saying the president got in his own way." (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER GARY COHN, SAYING: "I'm saying the policies collided with each other." The deal inked last week leaves in place U.S. tariffs of 25 percent on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Chinese retaliatory tariffs on $100 billion worth of American products.

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