US President Donald Trump's pick to be head of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow. Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb

Wall Street took heart on Wednesday when US President Donald Trump picked Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn as his new National Economic Council chief. Cohn quit, at least in part, because Trump refused to heed his warnings against imposing tariffs. Kudlow was an outspoken supporter of Cohn’s efforts to prevent Trump from engaging in reckless protectionist behavior, and is seen as someone who can carry the torch of free trade advocacy in the White House.

After accepting Trump’s offer to join the White House, the frequent CNBC contributor has maintained his opposition to blanket tariffs, but seems to be giving lip service to comments from the president on Tuesday.

“[Kudlow] now has come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point,” Trump said regarding speculation about his choice to fill the post.

In his first interview since the announcement that he would take on the role, Kudlow took the opportunity to send a warning to China.

“I must say as somebody who doesn’t like tariffs, I think China has earned a tough response not only from the United States,” Kudlow said on CNBC Wednesday.

“A thought that I have is the United States could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China, or to let China know that they’re breaking the rules left and right,” he said. “That’s the way I’d like to see. You call it a sort of a trade coalition of the willing,” an apparent reference to then-president George W Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in the war against Iraq.

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