Saturday 17 March 2018

Trump's chief economic adviser resigns after dispute over tariffs

Leaving the White House: economic adviser Gary Cohn. Photo: AP
Leaving the White House: economic adviser Gary Cohn. Photo: AP

Jeff Mason

US President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said yesterday he was resigning, a decision that came after he lost a fight within the White House over plans to impose hefty steel and aluminium tariffs.

White House officials said the dispute over tariffs contributed to Mr Cohn's decision to resign but was not the only reason. One official said there had been several issues that led to the parting, but noted: "His biggest mission was on the tax cut bill, which he got passed."

The White House said the timing of Mr Cohn's departure from his role as director of the National Economic Council had not been finalised but was still a few weeks away. It was the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the White House.

Following the news of Mr Cohn's resignation, the US dollar weakened, while an exchange-traded fund tracking the broad market S&P 500 dipped 1pc.

Mr Trump's announcement last week of his plans to impose the tariffs sent US stock prices tumbling and came after an intense debate within the White House between Mr Cohn and other advocates of free trade, on one side, and protectionist advisers such as Peter Navarro on the other, according to White House officials.

Mr Cohn, who served in the White House for a little more than a year, struck an early rapport with Mr Trump and proved influential in the administration's decisions last April not to label China a currency manipulator and to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, instead of terminating it.

He also emerged as one of the main drivers of the tax overhaul package passed by Congress and signed into law by Mr Trump late last year. The overhaul was Mr Trump's first major legislative victory.

"It has been an honour to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform. I am grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the administration great success in the future," Mr Cohn said in a statement issued by the White House.

Irish Independent

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