Donald Trump has threatened to pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization if it doesn’t “shape up” and treat the US better. The US president issued the threat against the international trade body during an interview with Bloomberg news.
“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Trump said, making public a proposal he has reportedly made to top aides in the past.
According to Axios, Trump expressed consternation that the US was still a part of the global trade body.
A source told Axios the president had often made comments like: “I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States.”
The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, later dismissed the idea as “an exaggeration”, while the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said in July he considered talk of withdrawing from the WTO “a little premature”.
Trump’s administration has sought help from the WTO over retaliatory tariffs from China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Turkey, arguing the trade organization’s rules made the measures illegal.
Trump’s repetition of the idea came as he also told Bloomberg he wants to move ahead with a plan to impose tariffs on $200bn in Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period concludes next week.
That caused US equities to slump, closing down for the first time in four days.
The Dow industrial average was down 138 points, or 0.53%, at 25,987. The S&P 500 index fell 0.44% to 2,901, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.26% to 8,088.