Trump, WTO chief to discuss changes to trade arbiter


Posted at Jan 22 2020 10:10 PM

DAVOS, Switzerland - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed dramatic action with the World Trade Organization, saying the group's director general would visit Washington as soon as next week, but giving no other details.

The WTO lost its ability to intervene in trade disputes after the United States effectively paralyzed it when two of three members exited, leaving the trade arbiter unable to issue rulings.

"We're going to do something that I think will be very dramatic," Trump told reporters.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and other representatives from the world body would arrive in Washington "sometime next week or maybe the week after, and we'll start working on it," Trump added.

The United States this month finalized its Phase 1 trade deal with China and moved closer to enacting a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Trump and his administration have blamed the WTO for allowing China to take advantage of the United States.

Azevedo, speaking alongside Trump at the news conference, said the WTO needed serious change and that the multilateral system was not functioning properly

"If the WTO is to deliver and perform its role in today's global economy, it has to be updated," he said. "We are committed to effect those changes."

Azevedo said he would discuss what needs to be changed with Trump as soon as possible as well as with leaders from other WTO member nations. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Nick Zieminski)