Earlier that day, Trump signed a revamped three-way trade deal with Canada and Mexico, fulfilling a longstanding pledge, though the agreement could face headwinds in Congress.
China responded with its own tariffs on $110 billion in U.S. goods.
Plans under consideration to tighten State Department vetting on visas emerged as President Trump prepared to meet President Xi at the G20 summit to resolve their differences over trade.
Reports on November 29 out of Washington that China-hawk Peter Navarro will be present during the meeting, and Trump's own statements before boarding the plane to Argentina, suggest that an amicable outcome from the meeting between the two leaders may be increasingly unlikely.
At his G20 meeting with Scott Morrison, the President praised the new Prime Minister for doing a "a fantastic job in a very short period of time".
"The spirit and rules of the WTO run counter to unilateral and protectionist measures", the statement said.
Beijing is looking to convince Trump to not rain tariffs on $200million (£156million) worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent in January.
Following hopes that a deal would be made between the two countries, USA stocks closed higher on Friday.
For the wider G20 meeting, consensus is proving elusive.
The Group of 20 summit enters its crucial second and final day Saturday with hours left for diplomats to bridge divisions on major issues including world trade, climate change and tackling migration.
It marks a rising trend of discord among G20 members.
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After initial plans for him to stay away from the summit, Trump's hardline trade adviser, Peter Navarro, was added to the U.S. delegation at the last minute and is expected to attend the meeting between Trump and Xi, a United States official and a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Trump's remarks came as he prepared to depart for the summit.
But while Trump's abrupt decision quashed concerns that the President would repeat his cozy performance alongside Putin during their last meeting in Helsinki, Finland, new allegations by the President's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen revived questions about Trump's financial ties to Russian Federation as he arrived for the global summit.
The two leaders made headlines nonetheless through a hearty handshake ahead of the G20's family photo event.
Putin jetted into Buenos Aires Friday morning, and the Kremlin said it "regrets" Trump's decision to scrap the meeting. The Kremlin said it was willing to be "patient" in arranging a meeting with Trump. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia over the incident, is also in attendance. Argentina's presidency voiced cautious optimism that consensus would be reached, but a White House official said the United States would walk away from any statement that prejudiced USA interests.
He said: "We're working very hard".
During a meeting with Xi in the capital of Argentina, Abe said he hopes that the USA and Chinese leaders will have a fruitful discussion, according to the Japanese official.
"We've just gotten to know each other and, so far, so good", was his estimation of Mr Morrison from the outset, before adding "I think it's going to be a great relationship".
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would be robust when she talks to Prince Mohammed, urging him to hold a full and credible investigation into Khashoggi's killing.
And during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin was said by a French aide to have drawn a map of the strait off Crimea to buttress his position that the Ukrainian ships had intruded into Russian waters - a claim denied by Kiev. Putin reportedly pulled out a pen and paper to sketch the skirmish in the meeting, Bloomberg reported.
Among the other leaders at the summit will be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the focus of tensions over the murder of one of his prominent critics in October.