President Donald Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming the body treats the US unfairly.
In an interview with Bloomberg News, President Trump said: “If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO.”
The WTO was established to provide rules for global trade and resolve disputes between countries.
Donald Trump says the organization too often rules against the US, although he concedes it has won some recent judgments.
The president claimed on Fox News earlier this year that the WTO was set up “to benefit everybody but us”, adding: “We lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO.”
However, some analysis shows the US wins about 90% when it is the complainant and loses about the same percentage when it is complained against.
President Trump’s warning about a possible US pull-out from the WTO highlights the conflict between his protectionist trade policies and the open trade system that the WTO oversees.
Washington has recently blocked the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s Geneva-based dispute settlement body, which could potentially paralyze its ability to issue judgments.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has also accused the WTO of interfering with US sovereignty.
It comes as President Trump set an August 31 deadline for Canada to sign a new agreement with the US and Mexico. He has threatened to tax Canada’s automotive sector or cut it out entirely.
Donald Trump has been sounding off about unfair trade since even before he became president.
On August 30, he said that the 1994 agreement to establish the WTO “was the single worst trade deal ever made”.
The US has been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade battle on several fronts in recent months.
The one creating the most interest is with China, as the world’s two largest economies wrangle for global influence.
President Trump has introduced tariffs on a number of goods imported into the US.
A third round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could come as soon as a public-comment period concludes next week, according to a Bloomberg report citing various sources.
Asked to confirm this during the Bloomberg interview, President Trump said that it was “not totally wrong”.
China has responded to US tariffs by imposing retaliatory taxes on the same value of US products and has filed complaints against the tariffs at the WTO.