World watches with concern the ongoing trade war between the USA and China. In sudden development now USA President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization if it didn’t “shape up”.
Any such move by the US could significantly hit the global trading system, which the US played a major role in formulating.
Trump made the comment about the WTO in an interview with Bloomberg News. Trump has previously also blamed the WTO for what he perceives to be the “unfair” treatment of the US in global trade.
In June, a news website, Axios, had reported that Trump had privately told his aides about wanting to withdraw from the WTO, which he reportedly said was “designed by the rest of the world” to hurt US interests.
In July, Trump told reporters at the White House, “WTO has treated the US very badly and I hope they change their ways… And we’re not planning anything now, but if they don’t treat us properly, we will be doing something.” During his campaign for the presidency in 2016, Trump had described the WTO as a “disaster”.
However, Trump administration officials have been circumspect on the WTO issue.
While Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin denied the reports of Trump privately telling aides about leaving the WTO, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters that talk about withdrawal from the organisation was “a little premature.” However, Ross had also emphasised the need for reform at the WTO.
The statement on WTO is the latest example of Trump acting to modify trade agreements that he perceives to be unfair to US interests.
In addition to the trade war with China, which has resulted in both nations announcing tariffs amounting to billions of dollars, Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.