Trump Said to Seek U.S. Withdrawal From the World Trade Organization

June 29, 2018, 2:22 PM UTC

President Trump wants to withdrawal from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the only global international organization aimed at ensuring trade between nations runs smoothly, say new reports from Axios.

According to a source familiar with White House discussions, Trump has repeatedly told advisers, “I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States,” according to the report. Trump has been critical of the WTO since the 2016 campaign trail.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, confirmed this sentiment on Fox Business Friday morning. “I think the World Trade Organization is another group that he has said we should take a look at,” she said.

The U.S. helped establish the WTO in 1995 to create a forum for international trade negotiation, the resolution of trade disputes, and the distribution of support for developing countries. Today the organization includes 164 member economies, which altogether represent 98% of global GDP and 95% of global trade.

Trump argues that the interests of the U.S. are not supported by the WTO, according to the source, but the 2018 “Economic Report of the President” states that “the United States has won 85.7% of the cases it has initiated before the WTO since 1995, compared with a global average of 84.4%. In contrast, China’s success rate is just 66.7%.” The report, which spans more than 560 pages, bares President Trump’s signature on page 11.

Despite this, Trump has maintained his position on U.S. involvement with the WTO. According to the online news service, there are no policies in place to facilitate a withdrawal from the organization, but that’s not to say the president won’t make an announcement without the support of his advisers.

Still, the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal are so immense that many are refusing to entertain the idea. If the U.S. were to withdrawal from the WTO, global markets could react disastrously, putting trillions of dollars of trade at risk.

The decision isn’t solely Trump’s, though. He could announce a withdrawal from the WTO, but the choice wouldn’t be final without a vote by Congress.

In all likelihood, a move like this is too extreme to ever become reality. But, as Axios speculates, “if Trump continues to feel as if he’s being unfairly stymied by the international body, you’d be a fool to confidently declare that he won’t follow through on his desires at some point.”