A leaked copy of draft Trump administration legislation shows that the U.S. would abandon fundamental rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to Axios, which obtained the copy of the bill.
The United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act would reportedly provide President Trump with the authority to ignore two monumental principles of the WTO and take part in bilateral negotiations with any country.
According to Axios, the legislation shows the abandonment of the “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) principle, which says that countries are not allowed to set different tariff rates for different countries outside of free trade agreements.
The bill also does away with “bound tariff rates,” which are tariff limits that each WTO member country has agreed to, Axios reported.
The president was briefed on the draft bill in May, according to Axios.
However, officials who drafted the bill are skeptical that it could ever be approved, with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro having told White House legislative director Marc Short that it did not stand a chance of getting through Congress, the news outlet reported.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Axios that Trump has asked his team to develop a plan to deal with tariff imbalances, but cautioned that the administration was not planning a legislative rollout.
“It is no secret that POTUS has had frustrations with the unfair imbalance of tariffs that put the U.S. at a disadvantage. He has asked his team to develop ideas to remedy this situation and create incentives for countries to lower their tariffs. The current system gives the U.S. no leverage and other countries no incentive,” Walters said.
“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. “Principals have not even met to review any text of legislation on reciprocal trade.”
Axios first reported on Friday that Trump has spoken to his advisers about a potential U.S. exit from the international organization.
Trump has taken a series of aggressive moves on the international trade front in recent months.
The president announced in March he would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports and threatened last week to slap a 20 percent tariff on all European cars coming into the U.S.
He also said earlier this month that he would impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
China appealed the steel and aluminum tariffs to the WTO.
BY JULIA MANCHESTER – 07/01/18