Donald Trump says Scott Morrison is doing a “fantastic job” in his short time as prime minister because he’s getting things done that people want done.
The prime minister spoke to the United States president at the G20 meeting in Argentina, ahead of a key meeting between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Just getting to know each other and so far so good, I think it’s going to be a great relationship,” Mr Trump said in the meeting in Buenos Aires on Friday local time.
“I know you’ve done a fantastic job in a very short period of time.
“You’ve done a lot of the things that they’ve wanted over there and that’s why you’re sitting right here.”
The escalating China-US trade war is overshadowing the meeting of the world’s key leaders, but Mr Morrison said the US is pursuing a clear course ahead of its meeting with China on Saturday night local time.
“Whether they come to an agreement tomorrow, really only they can discern that,” Mr Morrison told reporters after he met Mr Trump.
“But … the suggestion that the path the United States is pursuing has a protectionist motivation, I think is false.”
The US has been pushing China hard on intellectual property theft, and World Trade Organisation rules that still give China developing nation status.
As part of his negotiating tactics, Mr Trump has slapped hundreds of billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese goods, sparking similar tariffs in response.
“In the past they’ve sought to take a fairly orthodox approach … what we’ve seen more recently you wouldn’t describe as orthodox, but that doesn’t mean the objective isn’t the same,” Mr Morrison said.
The G20 started with a group photo and a warm handshake between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who is accused of ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Mr Morrison told a group meeting of leaders Australia’s economic success was built on multi-lateral, open trade.
Angus Livingston to declare global trade is in its worst crisis since 1947.The US has been undermining the World Trade Organisation by refusing to appoint new trade judges, leading WTO boss Roberto Azevedo to declare global trade is in its worst crisis since 1947.
The European Union has proposed changes to the WTO in a bid to appease the US, but so far no resolution has been found.
Mr Morrison also met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the navy submarine contract, reforming the WTO and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
The G20 includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union.