Republican White House nominee Donald Trump suggested Sunday (24 July) that the United States could pull out of the World Trade Organisation if he is elected president.
The New York billionaire made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with NBC television’s Meet the Press, his first since being crowned as his party’s presidential nominee.
Trump, who has already threatened to renegotiate or rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement, also doubled down in the interview on recent comments questioning the US commitment to its NATO allies.
He said he would slap punitive import taxes of up to 30 percent on firms that moved manufacturing activities abroad, citing NAFTA partner Mexico as an example.
When show host Chuck Todd objected that such plans would be challenged at the WTO, he responded:
“Doesn’t matter. We’ll renegotiate or pull out. These trade deals are a disaster, Chuck. World Trade Organisation is a disaster.”
Asked if he was concerned such actions could rattle the world economy — much as the British decision to exit the European Union has done — Trump was dismissive.
“I’m the only one that said Brexit is going to happen,” said the billionaire. “What did it do? The stock market is higher now than when it happened.”
Pressed again on whether a fractured Europe was good for America, Trump equivocated, putting forward a vision of Europe as an economic competitor to be bested.
“No, no — but we’re spending a lot of money in Europe,” he said. “Don’t forget, Europe got together, why primarily did they get together? To beat the United States when it comes to making money. In other words, on trade.
“The reason that it got together was like a consortium so it could compete with the United States.”
“Look at Airbus,” he said. “They got together, all of these countries got together so they could beat the United States. Okay?”
“So you know, we’re in competition in one way and helping them in one way. It’s so messed up.”
In the same interview, Trump said that French and German citizens could face “extreme” vetting at US borders in light of recent terror attacks in both countries.
Regarding the United States’ NATO commitments, Trump was unapologetic, repeating that he intended to force allies to shoulder defense costs that the United States has borne for decades.
“We have countries within NATO taking advantage of us. With me, I believe they are going to pay,” said Trump, who previously warned assistance to allies would depend on whether they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
“Now, a country gets invaded. They haven’t paid. Everyone said ‘Oh, but we have a treaty’.”
“If they don’t pay, Chuck, this isn’t 40 years ago. This isn’t 50 years ago. It’s not 30 years ago. We’re a different country today.
“We have countries that aren’t paying and this goes beyond NATO because we take care of Japan. We take care of Germany and South Korea and Saudi Arabia and we lose on everything.
“We can no longer be the stupid country.”