President Donald Trump denied Friday he is planning to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization.
“I’m not talking about pulling out,” he told reporters on Air Force One when asked about reports he was planning an exit from the the global trading body.
Trump has branded the WTO a “disaster” and flouted international trade norms by hitting key allies with stinging tariffs, and imposing crippling fees on Chinese goods in the name of US national security.
US news website Axios cited sources saying Trump has repeatedly told his top officials he wants to exit the world body, which Washington helped design and most often rules in favor of the United States when Washington brings cases before it.
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier it would be an “exaggeration” to say Trump is planning to quit the WTO.
“I won’t use our favorite word about the fake news, but this is an exaggeration,” Mnuchin told Fox Business television.
“The president has been clear with us and with others he has concerns about the WTO. He thinks there’s aspects of it that aren’t fair.”
Although Trump complains that China and others have used the WTO system to their own advantage, “we are focused on free trade” and “breaking down barriers,” Mnuchin said.