U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday said he is confident the United States can forge a trade deal with China, but added that he thinks his country would do very well with or without an agreement with the world’s second-largest economy.

Asked if he was still confident he could get a deal with China: “Sure, I’m confident, but if we don’t make a very good deal for our country, I wouldn’t make a deal,” Trump said.

Asked about a report that China was not positive about a trade deal and that a meeting with President Xi Jinping might not happen, Trump said “I haven’t heard that. I think we’re doing well … We’ll do very well either way, with or without a deal.”

Speaking on Bloomberg TV, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the two countries could meet soon to continue hammering out a deal.

“It could go into April … We made a lot of agreements here in Washington two weeks ago … Now it has to go back and clear the top level of President Xi and the politburo in Beijing … That’s the key – not the timing, not even the place – we have to get it right so it’s in America’s interest,” Kudlow said.

China’s exports tumbled the most in three years in February while imports fell for a third straight month, pointing to a further slowdown in the economy and stirring talk of a “trade recession”, despite a spate of support measures.

The increasingly weak China data comes amid months of intense negotiations between Washington and Beijing aimed at ending their trade dispute. On Wednesday, the U.S. reported its goods trade deficit with China surged to an all-time high last year, underlining one of the key sticking points.

Chinese shares fell more than 4 percent on Friday after the data showed exports contracting, pushing global equities to three-week troughs.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Lisa Lambert and Nick Zieminski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas


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