U.S. President Donald Trump says he will not sign a trade deal with China unless it is a "very good deal."
Trump made the comments Friday as he left the White House to tour tornado damage in the southern U.S. state of Alabama. The United States and China have been battling over trade tariffs since last year.
The White House is planning a summit between Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Florida later this year.
"If this isn't a great deal, I won't make a deal," Trump said. Then he added: "We will do very well either way, with or without a deal."
The trade dispute between the United States and China has begun to affect China's economic growth.
China's exports and imports fell significantly more than expected in the month of February, data published Friday by the country's customs administration showed.
China's trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $14.7 billion for the month, from $27.3 billion in January.
China's February exports plummeted 20.7 percent from the same period a year prior, and imports dropped 5.2 percent from a year earlier, considerably more than expected. According to a Bloomberg News poll, the forecast was 5.0 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.
China economist Chang Liu of Capital Economics in London told VOA that the drop in Chinese exports is due, at least in part, to the tariffs. Last year, he said, "firms were front-loading their shipments [shipped more goods in the first half of the year] to avoid further threat of further tariffs. So that dropped the exports in the second half of last year. … So, literally, that is a tariff effect."
Recent economic data reveal the difficulties China faced in the fourth quarter of 2018 as its growth rate slowed to 6.4 percent.
In January, an import barometer of prices in the industrial sector neared contraction, while manufacturing activity in February marked the worst performance in three years.
China's government announced major tax cuts, fee reductions and a looser monetary policy to combat the economic growth slowdown.