April 18 | By: Stuart Eizenstat and Anne Pence.
Not since the 1930s, when global trade protectionism fed the Great Depression, has the U.S. so questioned the value of the international organization that sets the rules for the global trading system, the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Learning from the disastrous consequences of “beggar thy neighbor” trade protectionism, the U.S. took the leading role after World War II to create a rules-based global trading system, which has evolved into the WTO, and is its greatest beneficiary.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called the WTO a “disaster” from which the U.S. might “pull out.” We hope that just as his position on other trade issues, like China, has evolved in a more positive way since he was elected president, he and his advisers will recognize the benefits of the 164-member organization, which possess a structure, priorities and rules-based approach that reflects the United States’s influence.
WTO rules and procedures cover 98 percent of all global trade. Over 20 countries currently await approval to join, despite the rigorous, years-long process involving fundamental reforms and commitments, which themselves are beneficial to U.S. trade.
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