U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. would leave the World Trade Organization (WTO), the world’s largest multilateral trade forum, if it had to.
Referring to trade disputes, Mr. Trump said, “We were losing all our cases in the World Trade Organization. Almost every case, we were — lost, lost, lost. They thought we were stupid. They were the ones ruling. And then I came along. Now we’re winning a lot of cases because they know that they’re not on very solid ground. We will leave, if we have to.”
Mr. Trump was speaking at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex.
However, Tuesday is not the first time that Mr. Trump has trained his guns on the international trade body. At the end of July, the President directed the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), asking it to convince the WTO to rethink its classification of developing countries (which can avail of special trade protections).
In his speech, Mr. Trump named India and China as examples of countries that had taken advantage of the U.S. “But people have taken advantage… Like, for instance, they view certain countries — like China, India, many countries — for a long time, they viewed them as ‘they’re growing’,” Mr. Trump said.
He added that these countries had now grown and had “tremendous advantages”.
“But we’re not letting that happen anymore, okay? We have to work with them, but nobody ever wants to work with the United States. It’s a disgrace. But it’s changing, and it’s changing fast. And I think it’s the primary reason, probably, that I ran for President,” he said.
Mr. Trump was meant to speak on ‘America’s Energy Dominance and Manufacturing Revival’, as per the White House, but the President rambled through a range of topics, including jibes at his potential opponent for the White House in 2020, former Vice-President Joe Biden.
Among the officials present were Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler.