Economy

Trump’s Trade Rep. is Complaining About the WTO Now

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We still don't know exactly what the Trump regime hopes to gain by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico and, if past is prologue, we'll never know what they hope to gain by attacking the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Trump called the WTO a "disaster" for America during his campaign and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer is now calling the organization "deficient."

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Lighthizer, a trade lawyer, made clear that the administration was poised to push for major changes to the global trade system during upcoming meetings of the Geneva-based trade body. WTO member countries will meet in Buenos Aires on Dec 10. [...]

“There are a number of issues on which there is pretty broad agreement that the WTO dispute settlement understanding is deficient,” said Lighthizer, highlighting problems with WTO staffing and transparency.

Here's the thing: you may have your own opinions about the World Trade Organization or the trade policies that are litigated there, but the idea that America has emerged as a loser on the global stage is nonsensical.

In fact, the United States wins the overwhelming majority of trade disputes we file at the WTO.

When the U.S. has complained against the trade practices of other countries, it won 86 percent of the time, slightly more than the WTO average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For WTO cases filed against the U.S., it lost less often than the average -- about 75 percent of the time compared to more than 84 percent for all nations.

In context, it appears as if Lighthizer is unhappy because we occasionally lose when other countries file complaints against us.

The rest of the world probably recognizes this reality better than we do and a time is quickly approaching when they will have no practical reason to deal with us. We're certainly not giving them any good reasons to right now. We engineered the modern global system we all adhere to and the Trump regime wants more.

  • waspuppet

    It’d be tough enough to deal with this entitlement if these guys were actually — y’know, entitled to feel entitled. They’re a bunch of lifelong failures trying to tear apart organizations that have served the world at least reasonably well for more than a half-century.

    And we should listen to anything they say — why? “Because I’m sitting in this chair” used to not be a sufficient answer in America. But then the Trumpites have always despised this country.

  • muselet

    When you were growing up, was there that kid in the neighborhood? “Now, if I score, it counts 23. Because it’s my ball, is why.”

    Most of those kids outgrow that and grow up to be responsible adults. Those who don’t grow out of that phase seem to grow up to be Republicans.

    Note to Donald Trump and Robert Leithizer: it’s 2017, not 1946. The United States doesn’t get to set the rules unilaterally any longer.

    Is the WTO perfect? Certainly not, but international trade—which largely drives the global economy—requires rules and a dispassionate body to resolve disputes. Otherwise, we descend back into trade wars and punitive tariffs, and everyone loses.

    From the past eight months’ experience, I predict the Trump administration will withdraw from the WTO if the US doesn’t get to put its thumb on the scales. The results will not be pretty.

    –alopecia

  • ninjaf

    More of the “ALL FOR ME AND NOTHING FOR THEE” mindset that is pervasive in conservative political dogma today.