Trump threatens to pull US out of World Trade Organization

Embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade battle on several fronts

Washington.

President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the US from the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the body fails to change the way it treats America.

"If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO," Mr Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

The WTO was established to provide rules for global trade and resolve disputes between countries.

But Mr Trump, who has been pushing protectionist policies, says the US is treated unfairly by the body.

He said on Thursday that the 1994 agreement to establish the WTO "was the single worst trade deal ever made", though he acknowledged that the US had won some judgments in the past year.

His warning about a possible US pull-out from the organisation highlights the conflict between the president’s trade policies and the open trade system that the WTO oversees.

Meanwhile, Washington has recently been blocking the election of new judges to the WTO’s dispute settlement system, which could potentially paralyse its ability to issue judgments.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has also accused the WTO of interfering with US sovereignty.

What’s Trump’s beef with the WTO? The US president has been sounding off about unfair trade since even before he became president.

Last year, Mr Trump told Fox News: "The WTO was set up to benefit everybody but us… We lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO."

The US has been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade battle on several fronts in recent months.

The one creating the most interest is the one with China, as the world’s two largest economies wrangle for global influence.

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