A top economic adviser to President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday that the trade war is damaging US businesses with interests in China.
The day after tech giant Apple announced that it had missed its revenue targets thanks to falling demand in China, White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett said in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow that “a heck of a lot” of US companies will have the same problem unless a deal is struck to lift tariffs.
“It’s not going to be just Apple,” Hassett said. “I think that there are a heck of a lot of US companies that have a lot of sales in China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded next year until we get a deal with China.”
But Hassett added that the economic repercussions of the trade war “puts a lot of pressure on China to make a deal.”
“If we have a successful negotiation with China, then Apple’s sales and everybody else’s sales will recover,” he said. “But right now, China is feeling the blow really of our tariffs, and I think that that’s an appropriate place for us to have taken the relationship given the amount of stuff that they were stealing from us.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter Wednesday that “rising trade tensions” with the US are impacting China’s economy, prompting “deceleration” in the Asian superpower. The trade uncertainty “appeared to reach consumers,” with customer traffic in China declining, he said.
Markets, which have been unusually volatile in the last month amid growing investor worries about a global slowdown, slid again Thursday on the Apple news.
The ups and downs on the Dow have prompted anxiety in the West Wing. Trump is a close market watcher and has claimed responsibility for rising share prices, but has sought to blame the Federal Reserve for recent drops.
The Dow had the worst December since the Great Depression in the wake of Trump’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Argentina on trade amid conflicting messages from White House advisers and the President himself for prospects of a deal to cancel punishing import duties.
Hassett acknowledged Thursday that “the President is concerned about markets.”
But he later echoed Trump’s comments from a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, describing the December market drop as “a little glitch.”