President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the US from the World Trade Organization (WTO), claiming it treats his country unfairly.
“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Mr Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
The WTO was established to provide rules for global trade and resolve disputes between countries.
Mr Trump says the body too often rules against the US, although he concedes it has won some recent judgments.
He claimed on Fox News earlier this year that the WTO was set up “to benefit everybody but us”, adding: “We lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO.”
However, some analysis shows the US wins about 90% when it is the complainant and loses about the same percentage when it is complained against.
Mr Trump’s warning about a possible US pull-out from the WTO highlights the conflict between his protectionist trade policies and the open trade system that the WTO oversees.
Washington has recently blocked the appointment of new judges to the WTO’s Geneva-based dispute settlement body, which could potentially paralyse its ability to issue judgments.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has also accused the WTO of interfering with US sovereignty.
It comes as President Trump set a Friday deadline for Canada to sign a new agreement with the US and Mexico. He has threatened to tax the country’s automotive sector or cut it out entirely.
What’s Trump’s issue with the WTO?
The US president has been sounding off about unfair trade since even before he became president.
Mr Trump said on Thursday that the 1994 agreement to establish the WTO “was the single worst trade deal ever made”.
The US has been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade battle on several fronts in recent months.