WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump’s team played down talk of a trade war Wednesday as it fought to limit a financial market sell-off, promising a quick decision on contentious tariffs that prompted a popular economic advisor to the president to quit.
Administration big guns Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin rushed to the cameras to calm market jitters over proposed steel and aluminium duties, which they indicated were still negotiable and would not hurt growth.
Mr Trump is set to formalize the tariffs at a signing ceremony today in the afternoon, and Canada and Mexico will be exempt initially, Peter Navarro, a top trade advisor, told Fox Business Network Wednesday night.
As markets fell on news that Wall Street favorite Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, had resigned from the White House in protest at Trump’s trade decision and global partners vowed retaliation, Mr Ross tried to calm fears of a trade war.
“We’re going to have sensible relations with our allies,” he told CNBC, claiming that Mr Trump’s policy was well “thought through. We’re not looking for a trade war.”
Mr Mnuchin joined the effort, claiming that the tariffs, which are not yet finalized, would not hurt the administration’s projections for three percent growth.
“We’re comfortable that we’re going to manage through this so that it is not detrimental to our growth projections,” he told Fox Business.
As stocks fell off on Wall Street, a fierce battle over Mr Trump’s proposals raged behind the scenes in Washington.