Thank you very much, everybody. Before we begin, I’d like to just say that we have a large team of very talented people in China. We’ve had a negotiation going on for about two days. It’s going extremely well. Who knows what that means, because it only matters if we get it done. But we’re very much working very closely with China and President Xi, who I respect a lot. Very good relationship that we have. And we’re a lot closer than we ever were in this country with having a real trade deal.
We’re covering everything — all of the points that people have been talking about for years that said couldn’t be done, whether it was theft or anything. Anything. The unfairness. We’ve been losing, on average, $375 billion a year with China. A lot of people think it’s $506 billion. Some people think it’s much more than that. We’re going to be leveling the playing field.
The tariffs are hurting China very badly. They don’t want them. And frankly, if we can make the deal, it’d be my honor to remove them. But otherwise, we’re having many billions of dollars pouring into our Treasury. We’ve never had that before with China. It’s been very much of a one-way street.
So, that’s happening. And the relationship with China is very good, but I think they finally respect our country. They haven’t respected us for a long time. Not for a long time.
……Last year, 70,000 Americans were killed, at least — I think the number is ridiculously low — by drugs, including meth and heroin and cocaine, fentanyl. And one of the things that I did with President Xi in China, when I met him in Argentina at a summit — before I even started talking about the trade — it was a trade meeting. It went very well, but before I talked about trade, I talked about something more important.
I said, “Listen, we have tremendous amounts of fentanyl coming into our country. It kills tens of thousands of people — I think far more than anybody registers. And I’d love you to declare it a lethal drug and put it on your criminal list.” And their criminal list is much tougher than our criminal list. Their criminal list — a drug dealer gets a thing called the death penalty. Our criminal list, a drug dealer gets a thing called, “How about a fine?”
And when I asked President Xi, I said, “Do you have a drug problem?” “No, no, no.” I said, “You have 1.4 billion people. What do you mean you have no drug problem?” “No, we don’t have a drug problem.” I said, “Why?” “Death penalty. We give death penalty to people that sell drugs.” End of problem.
What do we do? We set up blue ribbon committees. Lovely men and women — they sit around a table, they have lunch, they eat, they dine, and they waste a lot of time. So if we want to get smart, we can get smart. You can end the drug problem. You can end it a lot faster than you think.
But President Xi has agreed to put fentanyl on his list of deadly, deadly drugs. And it’s a criminal penalty. And the penalty is death. So that’s, frankly, one of the things I’m most excited about in our trade deal, if you want to know the truth. I think maybe there’s no more important point.
We’re going to make billions of dollars with this trade deal. It’s going to be great for our country and great for China, I hope. Their market is down close to 40 percent. Our market is way up. We’ve picked up, since my election, trillions of dollars of worth. Trillions. Many trillions. And China has lost trillions of dollars. But I want it to be good for China and I want it to be good for the United States. So we’ll see what happens.
China is coming here next week, by the way. They’re coming home, the traders. And then China is coming here next week. And then I’ll be meeting with President Xi at some point after that to maybe — for some remaining deals. We’ll make them directly, one-on-one, ourselves.
(Question of Roberta Rampton from Reuters: I wanted to ask about China. Do you feel that enough progress has been made in the talks to head off the increase in tariffs scheduled for March 1?)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, you’re talking to the wrong person, because I happen to like tariffs, okay? I mean, we’re taking in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs from China. And our steel industry now, as an example, we tax dumped steel — much of it comes from China — at 25 percent. Our steel industry is so vibrant now again, they’re building plants all over the United States. It’s a beautiful thing. And from a defensive standpoint, and from any standpoint, you need steel.
You know, you can do without certain industries. Our country cannot do without steel.
So, I love tariffs, but I also love them to negotiate. And right now, China is paying us billions of dollars a year in tariffs. And I haven’t even started.
Now, here’s the thing: If we make a deal, they won’t have to pay. You know, it’ll be a whole different story. They won’t be paying that, but we’ll have a fair deal. There won’t be intellectual property theft. There won’t be so many other things that have gone on. And no other President has done this. No other — you know, we didn’t have a deal with China. You had the WTO, one of the worst trade deals ever made — probably even worse than NAFTA, if that’s believable, which, you know, hard to believe, because I think NAFTA was just a disaster. It was a total disaster for our country.
And now we made the USMCA, which is going to be a terrific — a great deal. And, by the way, the USMCA, from Mexico — that’s United States, Mexico, Canada — that’s where the money is coming from, not directly but indirectly, for the wall. And nobody wants to talk about that. Because we’re saving billions and billions of dollars a year, if Congress approves that deal.
Now, they might now want to approve a deal just because they’ll say — one of the things I’m thinking of doing — this has never been done before: No matter how good a deal I make with China, if they sell me Beijing for one dollar, if they give me 50 percent of their land and every ship that they’ve built over the last two years — which is a lot — and they give them to me free, the Democrats will say, “What a lousy deal; that’s a terrible deal.”
Like, ZTE, I got a billion — more than a billion-dollar penalty in a short period of time. And the Democrats said, “Oh, should’ve gotten more.” When I made that deal, I said, “This is incredible.” I just got — I got over a billion-dollar penalty, plus they had to change their board of directors. They had to change their top management. But they had to pay over a billion dollars. I said, “What a deal.” It took like a week. And the Democrats didn’t even know there was a problem with ZTE.
I’m the one that find them. I’m the one that settled it. Over a billion dollars. And President Xi called me and he said it would be important to him if they could get a deal. And we made a deal — paid — like, in a short period of time.
The Democrats went out and said, “Oh, they should’ve done better.” So what I’m thinking of doing is getting Chuck Schumer, getting Nancy Pelosi, having them bring two or three of their brilliant representatives. And we’ll all go down together, and what we’ll do is we’ll negotiate. I’ll put them in the room and let them speak up. Because any deal I make with China, if it’s the great — it’s going to be better than any deal that anybody ever dreamt possible, or I’m not going to have a deal. It’s a very simple.
But any deal I make with China, Schumer is going to stand up and say, “Oh, it should’ve been better. It should’ve been better.” And you know what? That’s not acceptable to me. So I’m thinking about doing something very different. I don’t think it’s ever been — I just don’t want to be second-guessed. But that’s not even second-guess; that’s called politics. Sadly, I’d probably do the same thing to them, okay?
But any deal I make toward the end, I’m going to bring Schumer — at least offer him — and Pelosi. I’m going to say, “Please join me on the deal.”
And, by the way, I just see our new Attorney General is sitting in the front row. Please stand up, Bill. (Applause.) Such an easy job he’s got. He’s got the easiest job in government. Thank you and congratulations. That was a great vote yesterday. Thank you very much.
From the White House