Gary Cohn: Key Trump Economic Adviser Resigns

US President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning, the White House has said.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from President Trump’s team.

There has been speculation that Mr Cohn, a supporter of free trade, was angered by Mr Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports.

In a statement released by the White House,Mr Cohn said it had been “an honour to serve my country”.

The 57-year-old former president of the Goldman Sachs bank had helped Mr Trump push through his sweeping tax reforms late last year.

Gary Cohn and President Trump were never believed to be close.

Mr Cohn wasn’t specific about the reasons, saying in a statement it had 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”.

Once that mission had been achieved, a number of differences may have prompted the departure, including the possible looming trade tariff war and his differences on that issue with trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Mr Cohn had reportedly set up a meeting between Mr Trump and business executives who opposed the tariffs move. But Mr Trump pulled out of that meeting and on Tuesday reportedly asked Mr Cohn in the Oval Office to back the tariffs publicly. Mr Cohn did not answer, according to reports.

In a statement, Mr Trump said: “Gary… did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again.

“He is a rare talent and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”

Analysts were pointing to the resignation of Mr Cohn, a free market advocate, as one reason behind a drop in shares across Asia on Wednesday. The Nikkei was off 0.77% and the Hang Seng 1.1%.

Rick Meckler of LibertyView Capital Management told Reuters that Mr Cohn was”very credible” and the resignation announcement “certainly causes short-term downward pressure”.

The dollar continued its retreat against the yen, down from 113 at the start of the year to 105.6 on Wednesday.

Last week, Mr Trump announced he would be imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports – 25% and 10% respectively. He is yet to sign them into effect.

He has regularly argued that other countries have been “taking advantage of” the US on trade for decades.

Trading partners reacted angrily. The EU, which says the steel and aluminium tariffs could cost it €2.8bn ($3.48bn; £2.5bn) a year,has now drawn up a $3.5bn hit list of retaliatory tariffs.

There are now fears of a global trade war. Mr Trump said on Tuesday: “When we’re behind on every single country, trade wars aren’t so bad.”

 

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