Trump’s Asia Trip — Just More Complaints?


Donald Trump just returned from his trip to Beijing and Vietnam (APEC). He was nice to China in Beijing, critical of China in Vietnam, and when home complained about the WTO again. What’s up?

Very simply he is out to get the WTO and its dispute resolution system. Who really knows why? He and the USTR Lighthizer complain about loss of U.S. sovereignty and loss of U.S. cases in the WTO.

Just don’t know where they get this stuff from.

The U.S. has filed more cases than any other country in the WTO. The U.S. won most of them and only lost a small share of cases when it was the responding party. In fact, just in the last few days the U.S. won three additional cases involving Indonesia, Mexico and Korea.

Most importantly, the U.S. was the principal architect of both the WTO and most certainly of its dispute resolution system as well as the post-war international system. Which saw a destroyed world economy return to great prosperity for millions of people.

This system reflects the American focus on rules and enforcement of them by a litigation / judicial process. The system has proven to be extremely effective and, in fact, the most effective international judicial mechanism ever, period.

Both Trump and Lighthizer both have a grievance mentality. Lighthizer lost most of his trade remedy cases, when in private practice, they were appealed to the WTO. Trump just always views himself as a victim.

The post-war system, rules and institutions are under attack by Trump and his administration. This serves no rational purpose.This really needs to stop, now.

Trump’s Unpredictability on Trade.” New York Times (Sept. 29, 2017).
WTO Held Hostage by the U.S.” The Economist (Sept. 23, 2017).
Trump Ignites Another Fire in Trade (WTO/DSU).” The Hill (Sept. 29, 2017).
WTO Chief Warns of Risks to Trade Peace.” Financial Times (October 2, 2017).
Trump Undermining the WTO from the Inside (AB).” Financial Times (Oct. 17, 2017).
Trump, Trade and Unilateralism.” Brookings Blog (Oct. 24, 2017).
“Trump’s Undoing of Global Trade Rules.” New York Times (Nov. 1, 2017).
Globalization without Trump.” Financial Times (November 7, 2017).
Trump — APEC Speech (Vietnam).” White House (Nov. 10, 2017).
Trump’s Asia Trip.” Washington Post (Nov.15. 2017).

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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