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Larry Kudlow won't be a 'thorn in the president's side' on tariffs, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says new top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow did not join the Trump administration to be a "thorn in the president's side" over trade issues.
  • Kudlow, Trump's new top economic advisor, has supported free trade policies for decades.
  • Trump slapped new tariffs on Chinese goods on Thursday.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the president's newly selected economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, knows what he's getting into when it comes to White House trade policy.

Kudlow "well understands our policy" on trade, Ross said Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "He wouldn't have taken the job just to be a thorn in the president's side."

Kudlow, a longtime CNBC contributor and friend of President Donald Trump, has extolled the virtues of free trade for decades. He publicly criticized Trump's protectionist moves in the White House just days before being tapped to succeed Gary Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council.

Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, resigned less than a week after Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Ross' comments to CNBC came moments after Trump signed a new executive memorandum saddling imports of Chinese goods with tariffs of up to $60 billion.

While Kudlow has not yet officially begun working in the Trump administration, Ross said he has already been involved in discussions on U.S. trade policy.

"He's well apprised of what we've been doing," Ross said of Kudlow. "In fact, Larry had dinner at my house with me and a bunch of other folks last night."

Ross conceded that he and Kudlow "may disagree on specific issues." But "overall, the president's policies are the president's polices, and it is our job to implement them," Ross said.