Gary Cohn bemoans 'dramatic impact' of Trump tariffs

The former top White House economic adviser said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE’s trade wars have had a “dramatic impact” on the U.S. manufacturing sector while doing little to hinder China’s economy.

Gary CohnGary David CohnOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request An economic bragging rights referee Gary Cohn says he's 'concerned' no one is left in White House to stand up to Trump MORE, former director of the National Economic Council, told the BBC in an interview aired Thursday that Trump’s tariffs have effectively canceled the benefits of his 2017 corporate tax cut and prevented U.S. manufacturers from expansion.

"When you build plant equipment, you're buying steel, you're buying aluminum, you're buying imported products and then we put tariffs on those, so literally the tax incentive we gave you with one hand was taken away with the other hand,” Cohn told the BBC.

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"So we are not seeing the manufacturing job creation. And I think if we get through this tariff situation, there's a real opportunity to see it here in the United States."

Cohn, a staunch free-trade advocate, announced his resignation in March 2018 after Trump imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The former Goldman Sachs president and registered Democrat clashed frequently on trade with Trump and his hardline protectionist advisers.

"I think everyone loses in a trade war. We are an 80 percent service economy. The service side of the economy is doing very well, because, guess what, it's not being tariffed,” Cohn said. 

Since Cohn’s departure, Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in goods from China, has floated another tranche on roughly $300 billion in Chinese products and is considering import taxes on foreign autos. Trump also threatened to tariff all Mexican goods over immigration concerns, but has stood down from that threat.

Trump has argued that the U.S. is benefiting from his tariffs through taxes taken in by the Treasury Department, which are being paid by U.S. importers and consumers. The president also attributes a sharp slowdown in China to his trade policy.

While the yearlong trade war has hindered China’s economy in some ways, Cohn said that the country was due for a slowdown regardless of Trump’s tariffs.

"I think the Chinese economy was going to slow down with or without a trade war," Cohn said, ceding that Trump was right to target the country’s alleged theft of intellectual property.

Cohn’s comments come a day after his former colleagues, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSecurity for Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost local taxpayers million On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE, concluded a round of trade talks with Chinese officials in Shanghai. Negotiations are set to resume in Washington in September.