The US Administration is hammering out a bill that stipulates that Washington may actually abandon fundamental World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, according to the news website Axios, which said it had obtained the draft of the bill.
If approved by Congress, the bill, which is titled "the United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act", would "provide Trump a license to raise US tariffs at will, without congressional consent," Axios reported, adding that the bill was ordered by Trump himself.
Additionally, the Trump Administration would be able to ignore the WTO's two most basic principles, specifically related to tariff rates, and sit down with any country for talks on a one-on-one basis.
"It would be the equivalent of walking away from the WTO and our commitments there without us actually notifying anyone of our withdrawal," a source familiar with the bill was quoted by Axios as saying.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has, meanwhile, said that it's premature to talk about Washington simply withdrawing from the WTO, which she said should be reformed, according to Reuters.
The remarks came after US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that a recent report that Trump is weighing withdrawal from the WTO is an "exaggeration" and "fake news."
Mnuchin added that although Trump has concerns regarding China and other countries using the WTO to their advantage, the US President is still focused on "free trade" and "breaking down barriers."
Earlier, Axios quoted a source as saying that Trump allegedly told his aides on several occasions that he wants the US to pull out of the WTO, branding US membership in the organization as harmful for the country.
The same source added that for now Trump's aides have managed to "push back" against the idea of the US leaving the WTO by ensuring that the country actually "does well" in the organization.
In 2018, he slapped 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from China, Canada, the European Union, blaming them for "unfair" trade with the US and the country's "bad" trade deficit.
Several countries have already imposed retaliatory tariffs against several categories of American goods, lodging relevant complaints with the WTO's court.