White House adviser Larry Kudlow says China trade talks 'long process'

Kudlow and wife Judith arrive for a State Dinner in honour of French President Emmanuel Macon at the White House.
Kudlow and wife Judith arrive for a State Dinner in honour of French President Emmanuel Macon at the White House.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday (April 26) he hoped upcoming trade talks with China would yield progress but that resolving US complaints would be "a long process."

Trump is preparing to send a delegation to China to try to head off a trade war. He has threatened a new round of US$100 billion (S$130 billion) in tariffs on Chinese products that could target cellphones, computers and other consumer goods. China retaliated against an initial round of US$50 billion in US tariffs.

Kudlow, known for being pro-trade, said he would join US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's delegation in Beijing for the talks, along with Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, a China skeptic, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. He declined comment on when the delegation would depart.

"We are representing the interests of the United States, and we have complaints - we've made no bones about that - so we wish to resolve these complaints," Kudlow told reporters at the White House.

"That is our hope, that we can make some progress. It's not going to be final, it's not going to be the end of the line. It's a long process," he said.

Kudlow met on Wednesday with Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, whose company makes products in China and who has urged calm during the recent flare in trade tensions with Beijing.

Kudlow declined comment on whether Cook asked Trump for changes in his trade policy on China, and on whether Cook made the case for how tech firms could be hurt by additional tariffs.

"Mr Cook has before and continued to acknowledge that China's got to make some big changes," Kudlow said. "He's obviously sensitive to all the issues of forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft."

Trump also has ordered the Treasury Department to consider new investment restrictions for China.

Asked where those proposals stood, Kudlow said: "Everything's on the table."

In an earlier CNBC interview, Kudlow also said the Trump administration wants concessions from Europe over automobiles as it considers whether to grant the EU an exemption from announced steel and aluminium tariffs ahead of a May 1 deadline.