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26 Feb, 2018 19:07

Trump calls WTO a ‘catastrophe’, says US losing out and needs new deal

Trump calls WTO a ‘catastrophe’, says US losing out and needs new deal

US President Donald Trump has labelled the World Trade Organization a “catastrophe” in a wide-ranging attack on the international trade regulator. His administration is seeking to renegotiate all US trade deals.

Speaking with US state governors at the White House on Monday, Trump said the United States loses a lot of money to Mexico and Canada as a result of the intergovernmental organization, which makes it impossible to do business.

His rhetoric about WTO echoes Trump’s pronouncements on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico, which he has described as "the single worst trade deal ever approved,” and a catastrophe for US workers and companies. Trump threatened last year to withdraw from NAFTA if the terms of 1994 agreement are not changed to favor American interests. Negotiations are underway.

Even if the US withdraws from NAFTA, it still would not be able to impose tariffs higher than five percent, because of the WTO rules.

Trump also reiterated his support for the US steel industry, vowing that he is willing to introduce tariffs on steel imports from other countries to reinvigorate America’s steel mills.

“I want to bring the steel industry back into our country. If that takes tariffs, let it take tariffs, OK? Maybe it will cost a little bit more, but we'll have jobs,” he said.

The US Commerce Department has already recommended that Trump impose curbs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other countries. Trump is reportedly pushing for a 24 percent duty on steel imports.

Meanwhile, the head of the WTO warned in a recent interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur that "trade wars can come up at any time, and in ways that we don't expect”.

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