Top Stories
Top Stories
Politics

Trump is right on China tariffs because they 'got teeth,' says billionaire GOP supporter Ken Langone

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump is "doing the right thing" by increasing tariffs on China, says longtime Republican supporter Ken Langone.
  • "The only way you're going to get somebody to a table for negotiations is when they have something to lose," argues the billionaire businessman.
VIDEO4:4004:40
Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone: Trump is doing the right thing on China

President Donald Trump is "doing the right thing" by increasing tariffs on China, billionaire and longtime Republican supporter Ken Langone told CNBC on Thursday.

"It's got teeth," said Langone, also co-founder of Home Depot.

Langone also praised U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's hard line approach in negotiations with China. "I give Trump a lot of credit for backing him up," he added.

"The only way you're going to get somebody to a table for negotiations is when they have something to lose," Langone argued in a "Squawk Box " interview.

The Trump administration is attempting to strike a trade deal with China to end the escalating conflict. The world's two largest economies increased tariffs on one another in recent days, with the U.S. making the first move by increasing duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10% to 25%. The tactic amplified a fight that has rattled financial markets and threatened to drag on the global economy.

On Wednesday, China reported surprisingly weaker growth in retail sales and industrial output for April, adding pressure on Beijing to roll out more stimulus as the trade war with the United States escalates.

However, Langone acknowledged that in the long-term tariffs are bad for business. "God forbid if this is a permanent thing," he said. But he doesn't think that's going to happen.

Langone also speculated Chinese officials may be betting that Trump won't be re-elected as a flood of Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, look to take back the White House in 2020.

That would be a mistake, he said. "The American people, deep down in their heart, are going to say, 'What's right for America, is right for me.'"

Langone, also founder of investment bank Invemed Associates, ended up backing Trump in the 2016 election after first supporting Chris Christie and then John Kasich.