US should be prepared to walk away from the WTO: Former Trump trade advisor

Key Points
  • The WTO has failed at its mission and needs to shape up for the U.S. to stay a part of it, says ex-Trump trade advisor Dan DiMicco.
  • Trump said Monday if the WTO doesn't treat the U.S. properly "we will be doing something.”
  • Former Bush official Tony Fratto said pulling out of the WTO is a "ridiculous idea."
We should be prepared to walk away from WTO: Trump advisor

The World Trade Organization has failed at its mission and needs to shape up for the United States to stay a part of it, said former Trump trade advisor Dan DiMicco.

“If the WTO can’t be any more effective than it has been the last 20 years … then the WTO is not helping the world trading system, it’s hurting it, and we should be prepared to walk away,” said DiMicco, who served as an advisor during the Trump campaign and is currently on the president’s advisory committee on trade policy and negotiation. DiMicco is also the former CEO of Nucor.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that the WTO has treated the U.S. “very badly.”

“I hope they change their ways,” Trump said. “We’re not planning anything now, but if they don’t treat us properly we will be doing something.”

Axios recently reported that the president has told several top White House officials he wants to withdraw the U.S. from the organization. A source told the media outlet that Trump told his advisors, “I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States."

Then on Sunday, Axios reported that the Trump administration has drafted a bill that would allow the White House to unilaterally raise tariffs without congressional consent. If that legislation went ahead 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.

DiMicco told “Power Lunch” the WTO has enabled China’s bad behavior and allowed the country to manipulate its currency from 1995 to 2015.

"Nobody has held them accountable,” he said.

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Tony Fratto, deputy press secretary under President George W. Bush, said there is “no question” that improvements are needed at the WTO. However, he disagrees with the way Trump is handling the situation.

“To say that the United States is a loser in a WTO world is just completely inaccurate. We created the WTO as the dominant economy in the world to serve our interests,” he said on “Power Lunch.”

He believes there are better ways to try to make improvements at the organization than “to hold it hostage and to threaten to pull out of it.”

“We know that pulling out if it is a ridiculous idea,” he added.