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Trump Has Fighting Words for the World Trade Organization

'If they don't shape up, I would withdraw'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2018 1:33 AM CDT
President Donald Trump addresses his supporters at a campaign rally at the Ford Center Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Evansville, Ind. Trump appeared at the rally to boost support for wealthy Republican...   (Denny Simmons/Evansville Courier & Press via AP.)

(Newser) – Shape up or we'll ship out. That was essentially the message President Trump had for the World Trade Organization in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday. Trump described the 1994 agreement that formed the WTO as "the single worst trade deal ever made" and issued his threat: "If they don't shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO." The body sets rules for global trade and serves as a forum for handling trade disputes, and Trump complained about the historical outcome of those complaints. He had this to say: "We rarely won a lawsuit except for last year. 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 there."

The BBC cites a study that shows the reality is more like 90/90: We win about 90% of the cases we bring, and lose just shy of 90% of those filed against us. As for the cases filed against us, ones from China have made recent headlines. The AP reports Beijing on Monday formally sought "dispute consultations" over the latest round of tariffs—$16 billion of them—imposed last week on Chinese goods. China is a thorn, per US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who views China's 2001 entry into the body as a mistake. Bloomberg's take: "A US withdrawal from the WTO potentially would be far more significant for the global economy than even Trump’s growing trade war with China." In the meantime, the US has been blocking the appointment of new judges, which could ultimately put the WTO's ability to issue judgments on ice. Click for more on Trump's wide-ranging interview. (Read more President Trump stories.)

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