U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after speaking during the annual American Farm Bureau Federation conference in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)  

Mnuchin Calls Report That Trump Wants to Withdraw From WTO an ‘Exaggeration’

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pushed back on a news report that President Donald Trump is discussing a withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, calling it "an exaggeration."

"He has concerns about the WTO. He thinks there’s aspects of it that aren’t fair," Mnuchin said during an interview on Fox Business Networks’s "Mornings With Maria" show. In addition, he said it’s "not breaking news."

Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw from the trade organization, which he said isn’t always fair to the U.S., Axios reported, citing unidentified administration sources. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index and U.S. futures both wobbled before recovering following the report.

A WTO official said Friday the organization hasn’t heard from the U.S. on revisiting WTO membership.

“We have not heard anyone express this to us at any level of the U.S. government,” WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said in a telephone interview. “We won’t speculate on anything we don’t know anything about.”

The WTO, which oversees international trade between member nations, is designed to help producers of goods and services conduct business. It serves as a forum for negotiating trade deals as well as settling disputes. The collective counts 164 member nations, according to its website.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump has said the WTO is one of several international organizations the U.S. should revisit in terms of its membership.

"The president has made it very clear that he thinks that people who are members of a group like NATO should pay their fair share,” she told Fox Business. “I think the World Trade Organization is another group that he’s said we should take a look at. I’ll leave any announcements to him."

"America first doesn’t mean America alone,” Conway said, but it "also means that we stop paying the bill for a lot of other people and participating in things that may not be in our best interests."

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