Trump plays down trade war rhetoric; says talks with China going very well

Donald Trump US President, to the media on the south lawn of the White House in Washington on Saturday

US President Donald Trump today said said trade negotiations with China were going on "very well", asserting that the two countries have made a lot of progress.

"I'm proud to announce that we're getting along very well with respect to the whole very big negotiation that we're having with China," Trump told American workers at the White House today.

His remarks assume significance as both the US and China are locked in a virtual trade war, slapping additional import duties against each other's products.

The US has nearly USD 500 billion trade deficit. Trump has imposed an additional import tariff on some 1,300 Chinese products worth USD 50 billion and directed to look into another round of additional tariffs worth USD 150 billion. China has been quick in drawing up trade retaliation options against the US.

"For many years, our country has been very much taken advantage of. I don't blame China; I blame our representatives, frankly. Too bad we couldn't have done it the other way around. But it didn't work that way, Trump said in the Rose Garden of the White House.

"So China is negotiating with us very hard, very long, and we've made a lot of progress for opening it up and for getting rid of those tariffs. I think you're going to see some tremendous business openings," he said without any further explanation.

He called Chinese President Xi Jinping as his friend. "I like (him) very much -- I think he actually likes me very much also, believe it or not -- but he is for China; Im for US. That's the way it works," he said amid an applause.

In his meeting with a group of governors and senators, Trump alleged that China has consistently treated the United States agriculture "unfairly".

"I was very proud of something I did at Mar-a-Lago, in Florida. I had President Xi, who's a friend of mine, who's a very, very good man. And I don't blame China; I blame our representatives that -- our people over the past, our Presidents and negotiators and trade representatives -- that they allowed this to happen," he said.

"But during a very brief conversation, I said, 'President, the United States, we want to sell beef again to China'. Now, they hadn't sold it in, what, 14 years or something. And he looked at me and he said, 'Say it again'. I said, 'We want to sell beef' -- that's a big industry -- in China. And he said, 'We will sell beef in China'. And we did other things too. But the one that really is the most interesting for the people at this table is beef," Trump said.

He said Xi made a very good speech and said he was going to open up China.

"He's going to open it up, take down a lot of the trade barriers -- maybe all of them -- but take down a lot of trade barriers. He is going to get rid of a lot of the taxes or tariffs that they charge," he said.

Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the US was receiving good signals from China for change in the past few days.

"The President signalled back. Great discussions are going on. The China initiatives, with respect to technology and barriers and autos and farming, this is all designed at the end of the process -- I call it the end of the rainbow -- to promote growth," he said.

"There's a pot of gold there. And if you open that pot, there will be better growth and more prosperity for every part of this country and every working person in this country. That's the design, it is not to punish; it's to grow. We never talked about punishment," Kudlow said.


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