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Trump threatens to leave World Trade Organization

by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/31/18, 12:33 pm

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, calling it “the single worst trade deal ever made.” The president, in an interview with Bloomberg, argued that the WTO’s dispute system needs a major overhaul and criticized the organization’s treatment of the United States, noting that “we rarely won a lawsuit except for last year.” Trump’s disparagement of the WTO is long-standing. During the 2016 presidential campaign he called the WTO “a disaster.” 

It is uncertain whether the president has authority to withdraw the United States from the group. Some argue that because Congress voted to join the organization in 1994, withdrawing requires congressional approval. But a 2016 Peterson Institute report argues the president’s constitutional power in foreign affairs gives him authority to withdraw from trade organizations.

The WTO, created by a U.S.-led effort in 1994, is a forum for resolving trade disputes between member countries, in which panels allow countries to sanction those who violate WTO rules. The United States is a frequent beneficiary of these panels. The 2018 Economic Report of the President states that the United States won 85.7 percent of its cases since 1995 in contrast to a global average of 84.4 percent.

In the interview, Trump said, “In the last year, we’re starting to win a lot. … You know why? Because they know if we don’t, I’m out of here.”

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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