US denies Trump’s bid to exit World Trade Organization

WASHINGTON – It would be an “exaggeration” to say US President Donald Trump is planning to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday, denying a media report.

“I won’t use our favourite word about the fake news but this is an exaggeration,” Mnuchin told Fox Business television about the report from Washington news website Axios.

“The president has been clear with us and with others he has concerns about the WTO. He thinks there’s aspects of it that aren’t fair.”

And although Trump complains that China and others have used the WTO system to their own advantage “we are focused on free trade” and “breaking down barriers,” Mnuchin said.

Axios cited sources saying Trump has repeatedly told his top officials he wants to exit the global trading body that Washington helped design and which most often rules in favor of the United States when Washington brings cases before the world body.

But Trump has publicly complained about the trade rules, calling the WTO a “disaster” and has flouted international norms by hitting key allies with stinging tariffs on steel and aluminum and imposing crippling fees on tens of billions of Chinese goods in the name of US national security.

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