Trump’s gushing words for ScoMo

DONALD Trump has heaped praise on Scott Morrison for his surprise federal election win during a working dinner last night.

"He had a fantastic victory, as you know,'' the US President told guests at the beginning of the event, held on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka. "It didn't surprise me, but he surprised a lot of other people.

"See, I knew him. See, I said you're going to do very well, and he did, he did that.

"They called it an upset, but I don't call it an upset. You probably didn't. It's a fantastic thing you did.''

Mr Morrison later invited him to golf's Presidents Cup in Melbourne in December.

"It might not be easy,'' Mr Trump said. "But I'd like to. That's a big deal. That's going to be great."


The two leaders held a working dinner on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka.
The two leaders held a working dinner on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka.

The dinner with Mr Morrison marked the first meeting Mr Trump held upon arriving in Osaka.

Earlier, the Prime Minister said he saw the dinner as a chance to convince Mr Trump to resolve his ongoing trade dispute with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is casting a shadow over the global economy.

"It's going to be an important few days, but there's no better or stronger or deeper relationship than the United States to Australia," he told Mr Trump last night.

"We work with our allies. We take care of our allies. Generally speaking, I've inherited massive trade deficits with our allies. But we also look at our allies," Mr Trump said on trade.

"And I think Australia is a good example. We've worked together very closely - just recently, on a big trade situation. We had a little bit of a trade deal going, and it worked out very well for both of us.''


Mr Trump also heaped praised on the US-Australia alliance. During the meeting, the US President said the relationship the US has with Australia is considered "one of our best".

"We're very proud of it. It's one of our oldest, and one of our best," Mr Trump said.

"We were just talking about the battles that we fought together. These are big-name battles. And they were tough battles. And we won every one of them. So, it's great to be with you."

Mr Morrison was joined at the dinner by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Australia's Washington ambassador Joe Hockey.

Mr Trump came with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, trade representative Robert Lighthizer and national security adviser John Bolton as well as his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump.



The meeting took place just days after Mr Morrison warned Australia would not be a "passive bystander" in the escalating trade feud.

"The impact of any further deterioration of the relationship will not be limited to these two major powers," Mr Morrison said at a speech in Sydney on Wednesday.

"The balance between strategic engagement and strategic competition in the US-China relationship has shifted. This was inevitable."

He told the Bloomberg forum Australia would not be "fazed, intimidated or fatalistic" about the souring relationship.

"We should not just sit back and passively await our fate in the wake of a major power contest," he said. "We will play our part. We will not be passive bystanders. Our approach will be based on key principles - a commitment to open markets with trade relationships based on rules, not coercion."

China's ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, said his country did not want a trade war but would "fight to the end if needed".

"China is willing to work together with the US to reach a win-win solution on the basis of equality and mutual respect," he told an Australia China Business Council event in Canberra before Mr Morrison's speech.

"As we have made it clear, China is open to negotiations, but we will also fight to the end if needed."

Mr Trump is also expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss trade, but the White House has suggested it is in no rush to bring an end to the dispute.



The dinner comes as Mr Trump is planning to ramp up the trade dispute with China, saying he is ready to proceed with additional tariffs if negotiations between the two countries fail to improve.

The US President is prepared to impose another $300 billion worth of tariffs on China on top of the 25 per cent tax already in place on $250 billion of Chinese imports.

"My Plan B is maybe my Plan A," he told the Fox Business Network overnight. "My Plan B is that if we don't make a deal, I will tariff and maybe not at 25 per cent, but maybe at 10 per cent, but I will tariff the rest of the $600 billion that we're talking about. My attitude is I'm very happy either way."

Mr Trump said the Chinese economy was "going down the tubes", adding Mr Xi wants to "make a deal more than I do".

He has also threatened to expand the trade battle to Vietnam, one of China's neighbours that has benefited from the dispute.

"A lot of companies are moving to Vietnam, but Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China. So there's a very interesting situation going on there," Mr Trump said.

Asked by Fox host Maria Bartiromo if he planned to impose tariffs on Vietnam, Mr Trump did not directly respond, saying: "We're in discussions with Vietnam."