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Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns amid tariff row

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Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns amid tariff row

Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns amid tariff row
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The top economic adviser to US President Donald Trump is resigning, the White House has announced.

Former investment banker Gary Cohn has served as Director of the National Economic Council since Trump took office in 2017.

His resignation comes after Trump announced hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, a policy Cohn is strongly opposed to.

It is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration.

"It has been an honour to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies," Cohn said in a statement, singling out the passage last year of sweeping tax reforms.

Trump tweeted that he “will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor”, saying that “many want the job”.

White House officials said the tariffs dispute contributed to Cohn’s decision to leave but that it was not the sole reason. One said that the adviser and the president had been discussing his possible departure for weeks.

Last week Donald Trump announced that he would impose import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, a move criticised by some prominent Republicans, but backed by some Democrats.

The announcement sparked an intense debate within the White House between Gary Cohn and Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council. It’s thought that Cohn’s departure may leave Navarro more free to pursue a protectionist agenda, in line with the president’s concerns over trade.

The dollar weakened on the news of the adviser’s resignation and US stock futures fell more than one percent.

Cohn, 57, served in the White House for a little over a year. He achieved an early rapport with Trump and proved influential in the administration’s decisions last April not to label China a currency manipulator and to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, instead of terminating it.

A former president of Goldman Sachs, he was instrumental in the tax overhaul enacted in December, Trump’s only major legislative achievement of 2017.

However, Cohn’s relationship with the president reportedly soured in the middle of last year when he disagreed with Trump’s tepid response to clashes between neo-Nazis and anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Since Donald Trump’s election, among the president’s team he has lost include his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former press secretary Sean Spicer, ex-communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and last week his close aide and latest communications director Hope Hicks.

with Reuters