President Trump said Friday that he doesn’t believe that he needs to ink a trade deal with China before the 2020 presidential election, arguing it wouldn’t have a negative impact on the vote.
“I don’t think I need it before the election. I think people know that we’re doing a great job,” Trump told reporters during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday.
“I don’t think it has any impact on the election,” Trump said later, adding, “Now if something happened, I think that would probably be positive for the election, but that’s OK.”
Trump cited his efforts to rebuild the military and insisted that the American economy is doing well and that his trade war hasn’t affected it. He touted consumer and retail numbers that he claimed haven’t been reported in the media.
“We’re doing very well. Our economy is very strong,” Trump said. “China is being affected very badly, we’re not.”
Trump also repeated that Beijing has been “eating the tariffs” because of its currency devaluation, a claim that experts have disputed.
Trump’s trade war with China has rattled global markets and exacerbated fears about its impact on the U.S. economy. Economists have increasingly warned that a recession could be on the horizon.
Trump and his advisers have dismissed speculation of the possibility of a recession, pointing to low unemployment and other figures as evidence of the strength of the economy — something Trump has claimed as a major victory of his first term.
The trade dispute between the U.S. and China widened in August, with each side imposing retaliatory tariffs on the other. But there have been signs of deescalation in recent days, and Trump has increasingly expressed optimism of reaching a deal with China. U.S. and Chinese counterparts have resumed trade talks this month.
Reaching a trade agreement with China would be a boon for Trump going into his reelection; strategists say the absence of one, on the other hand, could potentially risk his support among supporters who have been adversely impacted by the trade war, like farmers who rely on agricultural sales.
Trump said Friday he wasn’t looking for a “partial deal” with China on trade, emphasizing the need to address intellectual property theft and other issues, which he said would take time.
He said that China agreeing to buy American agricultural products — which the president said earlier this week Beijing had said it would do — wouldn’t be enough to bring him to the table.
“We’re looking for a complete deal. I’m not looking for a partial deal,” Trump said.
“We could do a very big deal with China and it could go very quickly,” Trump said, later adding, “I could leave lots out and I could do it very quickly, but I want to do it right.”
Trump also spoke of a “very amazing” relationship Chinese President Xi Jinping but said the two have encountered a “little spat” over trade.