US President Donald Trump disembarks upon arrival at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska. He also touted ongoing trade negotiations with China, which officials say are making progress (SAUL LOEB)

Anchorage (AFP) – President Donald Trump boasted Thursday about economic advancements made under his leadership, saying the United States was “better than ever.”

His comments came a few hours following release of government data showing the economy had expanded by 2.9 percent in 2018, boosted by tax cuts, but also showed a slowdown in the second half of the year amid the trade war with China.

“Our economy is probably as good as it has ever been. We are just doing great, we are setting records,” Trump said to troops in a hangar at Elmendorf Air Force Base, where his plane stopped to refuel on the way back from Vietnam.

“You are looking at a country now that is doing better than ever,” Trump said.

He also touted the ongoing trade negotiations with China, which officials say are making progress.

In Washington earlier Thursday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the countries were on the verge of an “historic” trade agreement, which would address key structural issues like China’s subsidies to major industries and its exchange rate.

Trump has said the deal will be finalized in a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, and Kudlow said the summit is likely to be held in late March at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

“We have never covered so much ground. It’s a question now of waiting for the other side to come back and sign on the dotted line,” Kudlow said.

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