'A little premature' to discuss US exit from WTO, Ross says

Monday , July 02, 2018 - 9:01 AM

Kasia Klimasinska

(c) 2018, Bloomberg.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said it’s “a little premature” to discuss the U.S. withdrawing from the World Trade Organization as the Trump administration continues to look at ways to improve the global trading body.

The “WTO knows some reforms are needed. So I think there really is a need to update and synchronize its activities and we’ll see where that leads,” Ross said in an interview with CNBC on Monday. “But I think it’s a little premature to talk about simply withdrawing from it.”

Axios reported on Sunday that the White House has drafted a bill that would allow President Donald Trump to ignore fundamental WTO rules and let him adjust tariffs rates for different countries. It linked to a draft of the bill on its website. Trump on Friday said he wasn’t planning to exit the WTO after an earlier report by Axios that he told senior aides repeatedly that he wants the U.S. to leave the Geneva-based organization.

The U.S. has thrown the WTO into turmoil by blocking the appointment of legal experts to the group’s appeals body, the world’s top court for settling trade disputes between countries. The Trump administration has railed against the WTO, complaining it interferes with sovereign trade matters and saying that China has failed to open up its economy as promised when it joined the WTO in 2001.

“We’ve made no secret of our view that there are some reforms needed at the WTO,” said Ross.

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