President Donald Trump spoke to VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is taking part in the G20 Summit. Below are highlights of the interview.
Q: “Mr. President, we’re here in Argentina and the United States, Canada, and Mexico has signed a new trade agreement updating NAFTA.”
President Donald Trump: “That’s right”
Q: “Now one of the parts of it has to do with auto workers, auto parts. Is that in any way going to specifically address one of the issues the United States has with GM closing plants and 14,000 losing jobs?”
Trump: “Well it is and it’s not only that. It’s going to keep auto companies from moving. One of the things I really wanted was plants and auto companies, just in general – I mean jobs, factories – I don’t want them leaving the United States. That was very important to me, and we’re not leaving the United States. So, I think one of the strongest elements of the new – and I call it the USMCA – one of the really important things is you won’t see companies leaving once that gets signed. We have to get it through Congress and if it gets through, which I think it will, that’ll be great, and if it doesn’t we’re very happy the way it is now.”
Q: “As you call out China as one of the countries, that you say, is ripping off the United States, China’s global footprint is expanding, they’re already in North Africa, they’re building a huge port in Pakistan, they have great deals-- investment deals in Panama and Latin America. Sort of coming very close to the United States, geographically. Do you trust the strategic goals of China? Are you a little bit worried?
TRUMP: “Well I think they’re going to have less money than they have right now, because the deal that I make, and if you look at we have 250 billion dollars right now, at 25%. That means we’re going to be taking in billions and billions of dollars, plus I can double that up, and then I can double it again, and they could never do what they did in the past with other Presidents, because – and you see what’s happening with China. I don’t want to do this, but they are not doing very well now compared to what they were doing, and – again I think that we are doing well."
Q: “But as a national security point, you know, with their investment in Latin America and all over the world, it does seem that they are making a bigger footprint around the world.”
TRUMP: “I know, but they have a debt problem and they have to pay for that debt. It’s a tremendous amount of money that they’re spending. Do I like it? Probably not, but I also know it’s very expensive for them, and a lot of those places aren’t going to work out.”
Q: “You were going to – or at least you had considered meeting with President Putin and you have declined to. Had you met with him what was your agenda with the President?
TRUMP: “Well I just said that, you know, frankly in light of what happened with Ukraine with the ships and the sailors, it just wouldn’t be the right time, but I will meet with him. I think we have a very good relationship, and I think we’re going to have a very good relationship with Russia, and China, and everyone else. I mean, I think it’s important. So I’ll meet with him at the appropriate time.”
Q: “What do you think his – he’s thinking about doing with Ukraine? Why did he seize the sails and the vessels?”
TRUMP: “I can’t read his mind, and nobody can, and he knows what he wants to do, but we can’t allow certain things to happen, you know, it happened, and I just can’t be a part of it.”
Q: "One of the issues of a global economy is climate change. That’s a discussion here. What’s your position on climate change and how it has effected the economy worldwide?"
TRUMP: “Very simple, I want the cleanest air and the cleanest water on the planet. I want crystal clean water and that’s what we have. We’ve been doing very well with respect to the environment and that’s what I want. But I’m not going to put the country out of business trying to maintain certain standards that probably don’t matter. When you look at China, and when you look at other countries where they have foul air, they have not good air that comes over to the United States. People don’t want to talk about it, but it comes over. So we’re going to be clean but they’re not, and it costs a lot of money. Well the fact is, we are absolutely clean, but we’re not going to spend trillions of dollars and make it good for others but not make it good for our—You know, I have a very simple policy, it’s called America First. At the same time, we’re going to be a great neighbor to the world. But we have to treat ourselves fairly, so that’s the way it is.”
Q: “Are you going to mention to President Xi about climate change?
TRUMP: “We’ll talk about it, were talking about a lot of things. The big thing were talking about is trade, that’s what people want to hear and you know, he’s gotta to do something with his climate- his climates a little bit though. But- and I’m sure he will. I think he’s- he’s a friend of mine and a good man but you know, we have a little bit of a dispute. And again, our country has been taken advantage of for many years and that’s just not going to happen anymore.”
Q: “Alright now, our domestic economy, next week there’s a vote possibly on a government shutdown. First of all do you think there’s going to be a US government shutdown and does that have any sort of global economic impact?”
TRUMP: “Well I can’t tell you if there’s going to be a shutdown because nobody knows but I will tell you we’re going to have border security. We’re gonna have a lot of border security- you saw what we did with the all of the caravans coming up and now they’re starting to head out, they’re starting to go back. But we are going to have security. We’re not going to let people come into our country illegally. We’re going to have people come in on merit. We need people, you know? We have the lowest unemployment rate we’ve had in 51 years. We need people in this country. we have companies moving in, in fact Prime Minister Abe of Japan just told me they’re moving two car companies- they’re going to opening up two massive plants you know, you don’t hear that often but a lot of that is happening. You hear about General Motors and I don’t know what happened with General Motors but the trend is exactly the opposite. And I will say this – our economy has never done better. We’re doing unbelievable numbers, you see that. And a lot of good things are happening.”