WTO chief says no indication that Trump wants to take U.S. out of group

Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:36am EST
 
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo said on Thursday he had no indication that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wanted to withdraw the United States from the global trading body.

"I think that at this point in time what we have to do is be ready for a conversation," Azevedo told reporters, adding that he was convinced the United States could be a very important partner in reviving global trade growth.

Trump suggested during his election campaign that he could pull the United States out of the WTO if its rules stopped him renegotiating U.S. terms of trade to his satisfaction.

"I haven’t had any indication from anybody that that would be the case," said Azevedo, who added that he had not yet talked to Trump but was ready to do so.

If the United States were to pull out of regional trade deals, the WTO would continue doing what it does, he said.

Nor would free trade necessarily be damaged if the United States withdrew from existing or new regional trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Azevedo said, since much depended on what might be put in their place, and regional trade arrangements often failed or were renegotiated.

"Trade is not for amateurs. Trade is tough," he said. "So we should not prejudge and jump to conclusions whenever any initiative is launched."

Trump has said he plans to kill the TPP, an ambitious Asia-Pacific trade pact, on his first day in office, although he appears to be treading more softly in other policy areas after months of combative campaign rhetoric.   Continued...

 
World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, November 24, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse