National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday the strength of the U.S. economy gives it the upper hand over China as the two countries try to iron out a trade deal.
"China's economy is slumping and has been for quite some time. The U.S. economy, as I say, is in this prosperity cycle with no end in sight," Kudlow told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "So we believe that does give us some leverage, if you will."
"Because of our strength and because China needs to open their economy to better their growth outlook ... we will be very aggressive," he said.
Kudlow made his comments after the U.S. government released first-quarter GDP numbers earlier in the day. The economy expanded by 3.2% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said. It was the best start to a year for the economy since 2015. The print also topped a Dow Jones estimate of 2.5% economic growth.
China said earlier this month that its economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter, topping expectations.
The U.S. and China are trying to end a trade war that started last year. Since then, the two countries have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods. But the tone around the talks shifted late last year and early in 2019, with China and the U.S. signaling progress is being made.
Kudlow said "headway" in the negotiations is "pretty good, but I guess — and I think the president would agree with this — they need a good deal more than we need a good deal. But we would like a deal that works for both countries and increases economic growth for both countries."