U.S. President Donald Trump is pressing the World Trade Organization to stop designating China and other countries as “developing” nations, a label that allows them to receive lenient treatment under global trade rules.
In a memo Friday, Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to “use all available means” to get the WTO to stop describing countries as “developing” if their economies are strong.
He said the WTO uses “an outdated dichotomy between developed and developing countries that have allowed some WTO members to gain unfair advantages.”
Trump said that if the United States decides the WTO has not made “substantial progress” after 90 days, it will unilaterally stop treating those nations as developing countries.
The statement notes that seven of the 10 wealthiest economies in the world, including China, claim developing country status with the WTO. The status allows governments the ability to protect some domestic industries and maintain subsidies, as well as to receive longer time limits to implement trade commitments.
In a tweet Friday, Trump said the “WTO is BROKEN when the world’s RICHEST countries claim to be developing countries to avoid WTO rules and get special treatment. NO more!!! Today I directed the U.S. Trade Representative to take action so that countries stop CHEATING the system at the expense of the USA!”
Retaliation against France
In another trade development Friday, Trump vowed to retaliate against France for imposing a tax against U.S. tech giants, hinting that the United States could adopt tariffs on French wine.
“France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies,” Trump tweeted, referring to France’s announcement that it would tax tech giants, including Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.
“If anybody taxes them, it should be their home country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly,” Trump tweeted, referring to French President Emmanuel Macron.
“I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!” he added.
The French tax targets companies that use consumer data to sell online advertising. Britain has announced plans for a similar tax.
Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere said Friday that Washington was “extremely disappointed by France’s decision to adopt a digital services tax at the expense of U.S. companies and workers.”