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White House official downplays trade war with China

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Washington, April 5 (IANS) Larry Kudlow, the newly appointed White House Economic Council Director, has downplayed a potential trade war with China, saying that the US imposition of tariffs on 1,300 Chinese products is just a proposal.

"Blame China, not President Trump," Kudlow said on Wednesday for the recent tariff impositions by the US administration, to which China responded by imposing its own sanctions on 106 American imports.

"Because they’ve been going on for many years. Trump is really the first president to fight back" against Beijing’s "unfair" trade practices and theft of intellectual property, Efe news agency quoted Kudlow as saying.

In response to China’s allegedly "unfair" trade practices, the administration announced that it might impose tariffs on some 1,300 Chinese products valued at some $50 billion in yearly imports, according to a statement released on Tuesday by the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The list, which includes cutting edge technological items in the aerospace and robotics industries, is now in a 30-day public commentary period to give interested parties a chance to comment on it, make suggestions and propose changes or exemptions before the tariffs would enter into effect.

Kudlow, who recently replaced Gary Cohn in the presidential economic adviser’s post after he resigned presumably over disagreements with Trump on the White House’s tariff policy, has asked people not to "overreact" at the prospect of a trade war with China.

Washington’s decision to impose the steel and aluminium tariffs moved Beijing on Wednesday to announce that it was imposing new 25-per cent tariffs on a total of 106 US products.

Despite the Chinese retaliatory action, Kudlow said that the relationship between Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is "unusually good".

"Trump is putting his cards on the table, he’s standing up for this country," Kudlow said.

"But he’s also standing up for better world trade. President Trump regards himself as a free trader. I do too. But the path to free trade, real free trade, must include tremendous reforms and stopping these illegal and unfair trade practices."

In the wake of the Chinese tariff retaliation, the US stock market opened sharply lower on Wednesday but rallied throughout the day and ended the trading session some 231 points higher than Tuesday, about 700 points off the session lows. 

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