Maybe Trump Admin's Intent is to Leave the WTO

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 3/07/2018 04:24:00 PM
It may be an American farewell to the WTO building on the shores of Lake Geneva real soon.
As I've written in a previous post, it is unlikely that the United States will win a case against its proposed tariffs on imported steel (Trump mentions 25%) and aluminum (10%) if one is brought by the affected exporting countries. While there is a clause as I've also mentioned for applying such tariffs if the nebulous "national security" reason is invoked, [a] there is no real precedent for doing so and [b] it's unlikely to be sustained since American defense industries only represent 3% of steel demand.

But, consider this: What if Trump is going into this fully knowing that he will be ruled against? This could be a political ploy that works in favor of his "war on globalists" Bannonite shtick. If the WTO is "against America" as a losing ruling would indicate, then why not just leave altogether? That's how MarketWatch's Greg Robb sees how things may pan out:
There is concern among trade experts that President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum may eventually give the administration an excuse to walk out of the World Trade Organization entirely.

It is not difficult to sketch out a scenario where the Trump administration would just say “that’s it, we are leaving,” said Jennifer Hillman, a fellow at the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University, on a conference call with reporters sponsored by the Atlantic Council. Trump is planning to justify the sweeping tariffs on the grounds that the foreign imports threaten national security.

Foreign government are likely to quickly go to the WTO and ask that the tariffs be ruled illegal. Hillman said the U.S. may counter by saying it was taking the action under Article 21 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which Hillman called the untested “third rail” of trade laws. Essentially, the article says that some binding tariff agreements can be broken during wartime.
That is, a "biased" losing ruling--which is the generally expected outcome--would be the pretense to end American participation at the WTO:
The WTO panel might rule anyway, setting up a standoff. This suggests to some that the whole reason to go down the national security route is really to create a crisis so the U.S. can withdraw from the WTO, Hillman said.
It was previously unthinkable that something like this could happen since the Americans of old came up with the entire idea of a WTO. With Trump, the impossible has a way of becoming the probable. Let's see if the Republicans can rein in their "rogue" president as times have changed...and we haven't even gotten around to talking about the fate of NAFTA yet.