U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed that tariffs on China would remain in place during negotiations for a second phase trade deal with Beijing.
Delivering opening remarks at the 50th edition of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump called his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping "extraordinary," saying relations between the two rivals had improved following a "rough patch."
"He [Xi Jinping] is for China, I am for the U.S. -- other than that, we love each other," he said, gathering laughter from the audience.
Trump went on to say that had Washington not imposed tariffs on China, a recent phase one trade deal "would not be possible."
"That's why most of our tariffs on China will remain in place during the Phase two negotiations," he said.
In his nearly 30 minute speech, Trump praised the "tremendous" economic achievements during the first three years of his administration, and slamming inaction by previous U.S. governments to confront China's "predatory practices."
He underlined that the unemployment rate saw a 50-year low, while 7 million jobs have been created since his presidency.
Trump said the two trade deals his administration signed during the week with China and Canada-Mexico (USMCA) were the "new model of trade in the 21st century."
Calling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) a "disaster" and "decades-long-failure," Trump said this was a "wreck" he had to clean up.
He added that the USMCA, which is replacing NAFTA, "put workers before special interests."
He added that the "American dream is back" with his presidency and that the "great American comeback" would be "pro-worker, pro-family and pro-citizen."
"Today I urge other nations to follow our example and liberate your citizens from the crushing weight of bureaucracy," Trump said, adding: "With that, you have to run your own countries the way you want."
Additionally, Trump announced that the U.S. would join the one trillion trees initiative launched at the World Economic Forum, saying his administration was committed to preserving the "majesty" of the world.
In an apparent criticism of the Davos's environmentalist 2020 agenda, Trump said that "to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom, and their predictions of the apocalypse."
"They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 1970s and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives." Trump said.
"We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country," he added.
"Heading to Davos, Switzerland, to meet with World and Business Leaders and bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America! We are now NUMBER ONE in the Universe, by FAR!!" Trump said on Twitter hours before landing in the Swiss resort town.
Trump is expected to meet world leaders including Iraqi President Barham Salih, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq Nechirvan Barzani and Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga.
Last year, Trump canceled his trip to Davos due to a government shutdown.
By Vakkas Dogantekin and Beyza Binnur Donmez