A civil war over trade has broken out within the White House after a contentious meeting in the Oval Office between economic nationalists and pro-trade leaders from Wall Street, reports said.
The dispute resulted from differences between a group including senior adviser Steve Bannon and trade adviser Peter Navarro, and a ‘faction’ led by Trump’s National Economic Council leader and former president of Goldman Sachs Gary Cohn, the Financial Times reported.
The rift reportedly intensified after President Trump sided with the economic nationalists, including Bannon and Navarro, during a recent meeting after officials said Navarro had been losing influence.
Civil war?: A dispute over trade has broken out within the White House after a contentious meeting in the Oval Office between economic nationalists and pro-trade leaders from Wall Street
Pro-trade vs nationalists: The split within the administration was caused by differences between pro-trade and former Wall Street executive Gary Cohn (pictured left last month) and Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro (right)
Bannon and Navarro’s stance on trade supports the idea of domestic control of the economy including protectionist barriers and tariffs on imports to the US.
However, Cohn’s pro-trade agenda is in favor of globalization.
According to the report, unnamed sources claim the trade adviser has become increasingly sidelined within Trump’s team.
The battle between the two groups comes ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House next week.
Navarro has openly criticized and angered Germany and European allies for accusing leaders of exploiting the ‘undervalued’ euro.
The White House decline to answer questions about the meeting to the Financial Times.
‘Gary Cohn and Peter Navarro are both valued members of the president’s economic team. They are working together to enact the president’s economic agenda, protect American workers and grow American businesses,’ a White House spokesperson told the paper in a statement.
Navarro was also said to be losing traction after Republican leaders in Congress were reportedly angered by his lack of preparation during a closed-door trade meeting with Senators last month.
Andew Quinn’s recent appointment as the National Economic Council’s ‘special assistant’ has eased international leaders’ concerns about Trumps raising tariffs, according the FT. Critics of the economic nationalist policy believe imposed tariffs would cause a international trade war.
Foreign leaders have reportedly been dealing with Cohn about matters as opposed to working Navarro. Officials even speak to directly to the NEC leader about the renegotiation of NAFTA, the report said.
AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) trade official Thea Lea told the Financial Times it seems like the ‘Wall Street wing of the Trump administration is winning this battle.’
Donald Trump holds a National Economic Council listening session with the CEOs of small and community banks, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Thursday