US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin has rebuffed allegations that Trump wants to withdraw from the WTO in an interview with Fox Business Network. Earlier the news website Axios reported that US President Donald Trump told aides on several occasions that he wants the US to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO), citing anonymous sources that allegedly discussed the issue with him. He reportedly branded US membership in it as harmful for the country.
Mnuchin labelled the report by Axios an "exaggeration" and "fake news." He confirmed that Trump has concerns regarding China and other countries using the WTO to their own advantage. At the same time he stated that Trump is focused on "free trade" and "breaking down barriers."
Axios reported in its article that Trump had branded US membership in the WTO as harmful for the country.
"We always get f**ked by them [the WTO]. I don't know why we're in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States," Trump reportedly said according to the news website.
Axios's source said the US president repeatedly voiced such thoughts, saying that the WTO "screws" the US. The same source added that for now Trump's aides have managed to "push back" against the idea of leaving the WTO by ensuring that the US actually "does well" in the organization.
Trump publically criticized the WTO during his campaign in 2016, branding the organization a "disaster." He imposed 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from China, Canada, the European Union and other countries in 2018, blaming them for "unfair" trade with the US and the country's "bad" trade deficit.
Several countries have criticized Washington's move, even imposing retaliatory tariffs against several categories of American goods and lodging several complaints with the WTO's court. Trump has urged these countries to set zero tariffs on all US goods instead, promising to lift US import taxes on steel and aluminum in return.