White House

The Trump administration reportedly drafted a bill that abandons WTO rulebook

Key Points
  • U.S. officials have drafted a bill that will give President Donald Trump's government the ability to unilaterally raise tariffs without congressional consent, Axios reported.
  • That means the world's largest economy would be acting outside World Trade Organization rules.
  • Trump has reportedly told officials that he wants to leave the global trading body.
President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs the White House June 8, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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President Donald Trump's administration has drafted a bill that allows the White House to unilaterally raise tariffs without congressional consent, Axios reported late on Sunday. If the legislation goes ahead, that means the world's largest economy would be abandoning the World Trade Organization rulebook.

The bill, called the "United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act," ignores fundamental WTO principles, said Axios, which reported that it obtained a leaked draft. Those principles include the prohibition of nations setting different tariff rates for countries outside of free trade agreements and the established tariff ceilings that WTO countries have agreed to.

If the bill were to be passed, "it would be the equivalent of walking away from the WTO and our commitments there without us actually notifying our withdrawal," a source familiar with the matter told the Axios. Still, that source said Congress would "never" pass such a measure.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Axios that the bill was still far from becoming a reality. "The only way this would be news is if this were actual legislation that the administration was preparing to rollout, but it’s not," she said.

The report comes just a few days after Trump reportedly told several government officials that he wished to withdraw the United States from the regulatory organization.

Read Axios' story for more details about the bill.