In a sweeping interview with CBS News’ Face the Nation, President Donald Trump touched on a variety of issues, including the economy and trade between the U.S. and China.
The president touted the January jobs report, which showed strong growth during the partial government shutdown, and promised a “good chance” of a deal with Beijing over tariffs.
“We’ve put very massive tariffs on China. China is paying a big price and it’s hurt China’s economy very badly,” Trump told host Margaret Brennan, who had a few moments earlier asked about his work with North Korea over preventing nuclear weapons development, according to a transcript of the interview,
But, he added, “I want them to make a fair deal,” and he praised China’s prior role in helping the U.S. negotiate with, and put pressure on, North Korea. “It looks like we’re doing very well with making a deal with China. I can tell you this, no two leaders of this country and China have ever been closer than I am with President Xi. We have a good chance to make a deal. I don’t know that we’re going to make one, but we have a good chance. And if it is a deal it’s going to be a real deal. It’s not going to be a stopgap.”
In late December, Trump had agreed to leave the tariffs of some $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at 10% and not increase the rate to 25% as he had threatened. It’s believed the next moth is deadline time for deciding what will happen next. Coincidentally, China’s economic growth has puttered to its slowest pace in nearly three decades, as the nation reported Gross Domestic Product grew 6.4% from October to December of 2018, and 6.6 % for the year. It’s widely believed several factors have contributed to the slowdown.
Trump also touched on the economy when Brennan asked him about a CBS poll that found that more than six in 10 Americans disapprove of his handling of race issues, Trump turned to the jobs report that revealed that nonfarm payrolls rose by about 304,000 in January, far above expectations.
“The economy is so good right now,” said Trump. “You saw the jobs report just came out.”
Trump then claimed that “the African-Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Hispanic Americans have the best employment numbers in the history of our country. Asian-Americans the best in the history of our country. You look at women, the best in 61 years. And our employment numbers are phenomenal, the best in over 50 years. So I think I’ve been given a lot of credit for that. And in terms of race, a lot of people are saying well this is something very special what’s happening.”
When asked at the start of the interview whether the government would get shutdown again if negotiations with Democratic lawmakers don’t go his way, Trump said he wouldn’t “take it off the table.”
Trump has been pushing for funding to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, his signature campaign promise during the 2016 election.