Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Business | By Kate Woods

Trump makes veiled WTO threat after European Union warning on auto tariffs

The Trump administration has drafted legislation that would allow the ditch World Trade Organization rules and give President Donald Trump tighter control over USA trade policy, according to Axios, which published the leaked draft. But if shortened to an acronym, like many longwinded bill names are, Trump's plan could be known as the U.S. FART Act.

The United States has imposed tariffs on European steel and aluminium imports and is conducting another national security study that could lead to tariffs on imports of cars and vehicle parts.

Axios quoted a source familiar with the bill as saying the bill was "insane" and Congress would never consent to it. Trump was briefed on the draft in late May, Axios said, and most officials thought it was unrealistic or unworkable, apart from Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro.

According to Axios, most of the officials who wrote the draft bill believe it is untenable and essentially "dead on arrival".

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During a press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, President Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday the WTO has treated the U.S. But several people, including former White House staffers and journalists, have shortened it to the "FART Act".

CNN confirms the existence of the leaked proposal, called the United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act.

Anthony Scaramucci, who was Trump's communications director for 10 days past year, said the draft bill "stinks" because it would ask U.S. consumers to pay for tariffs.

Following news of the report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-a longtime capitalist juggernaut closely allied with Republican leaders and the Trump administration-launched a campaign to oppose the president's tit-for-tat tariff escalation.

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"They have to treat us fairly", Trump said Friday about the WTO.

Later on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump was focused on fixing problems in global trade, not on leaving the trade organization that has been a foundation of the postwar global trading system.

Walters did, however, reiterate Trump's frustrations with the existing trade system, which he sees as unfair to the US.

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