A report that President Trump is considering leaving the World Trade Organization (WTO) is an exaggeration, according to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“There’s no breaking news here,” Mnuchin said during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday. “So anybody who is reporting an Axios story is breaking news, it’s not right. I won’t use our favorite word ‘fake news’. But this is an exaggeration.”
Axios reported on Friday that Trump has repeatedly told White House officials he wants to withdraw the U.S. from the decades-old group, which regulates international trade.
The president has repeatedly decried American trade agreements with other countries, and in February slapped tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports, sparking what some say is an international trade war.
And while Trump has expressed concern about some aspects of the WTO -- he believes China and others have used it “to their own advantage” -- he’s focused on establishing free trade.
“We are focused on free trade,” Mnuchin said. “That’s what we are focused on. Breaking down barriers.”
The report prompted Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to express concern during an interview on Friday about whether Trump is truly weighing a WTO exit or not.
“I’m befuddled,” he said, adding, “The WTO has been an adjudicating body that has sided with us routinely. Over 80% of our cases we win. I don’t know why we would walk away from a body that solves trade disputes in our favor.”