President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization if the entity failed to “shape up.”
What did Trump say?
“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Trump said during an interview with Bloomberg News. He added that he thought the WTO “was the single worst trade deal ever made,” that it was treating the U.S. “very badly,” and that it needed to “change their ways.”
This echoes comments Trump made on Fox News in October, when he declared that the WTO "was set up for the benefit for [sic] everybody but us."
What is the WTO?
The World Trade Organization is a international body that maintains trade rules that all members agree to while negotiating their trade deals with one another. It also works to help resolve international trade disputes.
The United States joined the WTO on Jan. 1, 1995, the same day the organization was established. The United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and other important U.S. trading partners are also members.
Why is Trump mad at the WTO?
The European Union has filed a case with the WTO, contesting the legality of Trump's tariffs. The WTO has raised concerns about the threat of a trade war, as well as the impact of Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.
The U.S. has also petitioned the WTO for help with the retaliatory tariffs by China, EU, Mexico, and Turkey on U.S. products. Trump is expected to impose up to $200 billion in additional tariffs on China as soon as next week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Axios in June that earlier reports that Trump had wanted to pull the U.S. out of the WTO were an "exaggeration." Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had told CNBC in July that any talk of the U.S. pulling out of the WTO was "a little premature."