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Kudlow: I'm not a fan of tariffs, but Trump is right because trade is broken

President Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, is not a fan of tariffs, but he believes that President Trump is taking the correct approach the “significant trade dispute” with China.

“Look, I’m not a big fan of tariffs, you know that. I don’t like blanket tariffs,” he said at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference.

Kudlow, who said he’s a long-term critic of China, said President Trump is “doing exactly the right thing” on trade.

NEC Director Larry Kudlow says President Trump is ‘doing exactly the right thing’ on trade. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

This should have been done years ago,” he said. “A: the world trading system is broken. The World Trade Organization is broken. Just had this discussion at the G7. B: the biggest culprit is China, and particularly since it entered the WTO, which was about the year 2000, as I recall, China — they’re still labeled an undeveloped third-world country by the WTO. That’s nonsense.”

Kudlow railed against China for its barriers. He added that “they steal our intellectual property left and right” and will not allow for full ownership and instead force joint ventures. He also referred to local party leaders in China as “mafioso dons” when it comes to the transfer of technology.

You have to go and lay your entire blueprint on the table, including the technology, and they will have their experts open it right up,” he said.

He added that if China lowered its tariff barriers and nontariff barriers and opened its markets, the U.S. “will export like crazy.”

“[Because] America has become the most competitive economy in the world. Give us a chance,” he said.

As for the trade talks, Kudlow doesn’t think that President Xi has “any intention of following through with discussions.”

“I think the President is so dissatisfied with China on these so-called talks, that he is keeping the pressure on. And I support that,” Kudlow added.

While talks have stalled, Kudlow does believe that China wants to make a deal. He added that the ball is in President Xi’s court.

“The tit-for-tat business, which is nobody’s favorite path, but nonetheless, they can end that this afternoon — this afternoon — by providing a more satisfactory approach, and essentially doing what the rest of the world knows needs to be done: Tariffs down; nontariff barriers down; IP theft, no. Allow the American or British or whomever, German, full ownership of the companies operating in China.”

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.