Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Director of the NEC Larry Kudlow, and NSC Advisor John Bolton | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  November 27, 2018  •  1:35 P.M. EST

    MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Later this week, the President and First Lady will travel to Argentina for the G20 Summit. President Trump's participation in the G20 Summit is a key opportunity to reiterate his commitment to domestic and global economic growth and prosperity, cement relations with other world leaders, and advance a global economic system that is based on fair economic competition and free, fair, and reciprocal trade.

    While at the G20, the President and the delegation will interact - interact with many leaders, including bilateral meetings with the President of Argentina, the President of Russia, the Prime Minister of Japan, and the Chancellor of Germany, and a working dinner with the President of China.

    To speak more about the G20 and what the President intends to accomplish, I'd like to welcome to the podium Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and, following him, National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton.

    After their remarks, both will be available to take your questions on the G20 and other foreign policy news of the day. And then I'll be back up to take other questions on news of the day. Thanks.
Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow answering the media: Above. (White House photo)     Click image to expand.

    MR. KUDLOW: Thank you, Sarah. Thanks everybody. Let me just walk through some quick themes and then I want to mention some things the President talked - talked to us just a little while ago.

    As Sarah said, G20 - funny, it's not actually the G20 when we count it up properly. As Ambassador Bolton points out, it's much more than the G20.

    Now, in terms of the U.S. positions, we're going to use this as an opportunity to talk about our measures of tax cuts and deregulations, and reskilling and job training, and so forth that have generated significant economic growth and prosperity. And that includes women's economic empowerment.

    As Sarah mentioned, free, fair, and reciprocal trade and trade reform. There'll be discussions of infrastructure, finance, and also the U.S. emergence as the dominant energy power in the world today, actually.

    In terms of the much-discussed meeting - it's going to be a dinner meeting between President Trump and President Xi and representatives from both sides. It will be a bilateral. I want to just mention what the President told us a short while ago and that is, in his view, there's a good possibility that a deal can be made and that he is open to that. He is open to that.

    But having said that - some caveats, as always - certain conditions have to be met with respect to fairness and reciprocities. We've said many times, for example, issues of intellectual property theft must be solved. Forced technology transfers must be solved. Significant tariffs and non-tariff barriers must be solved. Issues of ownership have to be solved.

    The President will probably reiterate his view: We want a world, ideally, of zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies. Now, whether they can through all of that remains to be seen but that's the President's point of view, as I said just a little while ago.


    The U.S. is coming to the summit in very good shape. Our economy is quite strong. It's growing at 3 percent over the past year. Second quarter was 4.2. Third quarter was 3.5, perhaps to be revised upwards. We're in a very strong holiday season, so-called "Black Friday." Very strong.

    We've had tremendous investments - business investments, energy investments. Oil prices and gasoline prices are coming down. That helps consumers of course. We're in very good shape.

    China, not so good. I'm not here to critique or second-guess the Chinese economy, but most observers believe China to be in a slump, whereas the United States is in a very strong solid position going into this summit.

    However, again, to repeat, the President said, there is a good possibility that we can make a deal. And he is open to it. But on the other hand, if these conditions I mentioned a few moments ago are not met and not dealt with - you know, the President said, look, he's perfectly happy to stand on his tariff policies, which - 10 percent, the last $200 billion - scheduled to go to 25 percent. That's not a certainty, but that's the schedule.

    And he has said as recently as yesterday, the day before, if need be - if things don't work out in this U.S.-China summit meeting, he will invoke another 267-some-odd billion dollars in tariffs. That may not be the first choice. I'm just saying that is his view if we can't get something done.

    And things have been moving very slowly between the two countries, until the President himself called President Xi and said, "Let's restart. Let's try to get things going again." And then, since then, he's made positive comments about that. So we will see.

    As I said, the key U.S. goals surround growth and prosperity. And you know, our economy is in good shape; theirs is not.

    I'll just leave it right there. John, do you want to add stuff to that? Do you want me to take some questions?


    MR. KUDLOW: You sure? Okay, good. Let me take some questions and try to help out on this.


    Q Mr. Kudlow, I'd like you to address some concerns recently from representatives in Italy and France and Germany who say that we're actually backing away from the national stage and they fear that Russia will be the dominant economic force in Europe and the Middle East in the coming years. Could you address those concerns, A? And, B, can you tell us a little bit, if you can, about the layoffs at GM?

    MR. KUDLOW: Well, I'll talk to you about GM layoffs. Regarding the Russian story, I'm going to leave that to my long-time friend and colleague, John Bolton.

    I met with Mary Barra yesterday and we had a lengthy conversation about the layoffs, the cause of the layoffs. It's a great disappointment, obviously.

    The President indicated his own disappointment. He believes - as, frankly, the Prime Minister of Canada, Trudeau, believes - that the USMCA deal was a great help to the automobile industry and to autoworkers. And, by the way, they made those statements separately.


    And yet, GM comes in right after the deal - by the way, that deal will be signed in Argentina with the U.S. and Canadian representatives. So there's great disappointment there. There's disappointment that it seems like GM would rather build its electric cars in China rather than in the United States.

    We are going to be looking at certain subsidies regarding electric cars and others - whether they should apply or not. I can't say anything final about that, but we're looking into it. Again, that reflects the President's own disappointment regarding these actions.

    Ms. Barra told me on the other hand - I want to be completely fair here - it's her business - it may be possible to transfer workers to other plants in Texas and Michigan. I'm not an expert on General Motors. I'm not an analyst - auto analyst. But that's what she said.

    But obviously there's lot of disappointment, even anger. I've heard it, again, from Mr. Trudeau, from President Trump, from Democrats and Republicans.

    Q And just to follow up, do you think it's going to adversely affect our economy coming to the Christmas season and after?

    MR. KUDLOW: No. I mean, look, I don't want anybody to get laid off. I'm - I want workers to do very well. I want worker wages to do well, and they are. I mean, that's one of the great things.

    You know, there's a certain amount of pessimism that I'm reading about. Maybe it has to do with a - really, a mild stock market correction. Let's not forget a couple weeks ago. Just on this very point, we had 250,000 new jobs, which was a blockbuster number. Nobody really expected it. With a 3.1 percent yearly gain in wages and a 3.7 percent unemployment rate - those are very spiffy numbers by any benchmark in any metric.

    So again, holiday season layoffs from GM - brutal. Brutal. All right? Very disappointing. Will it affect the overall economy? I don't think so. I do not think so.


    Q Yeah, back to the question over the tariffs and - if these talks with President Xi go nowhere and we move forward with this escalation of the tariffs that you just described - which, correct me if I'm wrong, would be the biggest addition of tariffs that we've seen in your lifetime - what will the impact be on the U.S. economy? I mean, you - and I'm asking -


    MR. KUDLOW: That's a long - that's a long period of time you mentioned. My lifetime.

    Q Well, you know, but I - (laughter). I mean, you have been a committed free trader for almost all of those years.

    MR. KUDLOW: Yes.

    Q So what will be the impact on the U.S. economy if we see tariffs go up to the degree that you just described?
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