National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told CNBC on Friday that the United States would hold China accountable for the coronavirus pandemic.
“On the China business, it’s up in the air. They are going to be held accountable for it. There’s no question about that. How, when, where and why — I’m going to leave that up to the president,” Kudlow said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
China has been criticized by the U.S. and other countries for a lack of transparency about the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said Thursday that he was considering slapping new tariffs on China due to the country’s handling of the outbreak.
The president also said he thought the virus came from a Chinese lab, but didn’t cite evidence to support the claim.
Kudlow said that it would be Trump’s decision whether to add more tariffs.
“With respect to future tariff decisions and other measures, that’s going to be up to the president,” Kudlow said Friday.
The U.S. has already imposed tariffs on Chinese imports as the two countries have been negotiating a multi-phase trade deal. Kudlow said that China is still working to implement the first phase of the deal, but that the commodity purchases are moving slower than planned due to the pandemic.
Kudlow also said that the administration was considering several incentives, including paying moving costs, to bring U.S. company’s back to the U.S. from China. The pandemic has led to concern that vital parts of the medical supply chain, including personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals, is heavily concentrated in China.
“We’d like these supply chains to be based here. I think to some extent we’ve seen the importance of that,” Kudlow said.
Kudlow also again denied reports that the administration was considering refusing to pay government debt held by China as retaliation for how the country handled the coronavirus.
“Full faith and credit of the United States’ debt obligation is sacrosanct. Absolutely sacrosanct,” Kudlow said, saying the Trump administration did not want to do anything to harm the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.
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