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Washington's rule-breaking will leave it out in the cold: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2018-09-02 19:08
US President Donald Trump. [Photo/IC]

Intent on showing his critics he is making America "great again", US President Donald Trump appears willing to lash out at pretty much everyone and everything these days.

But in seeking to find a doorstep on which to lay his troubles, he is not only losing friends and making enemies, he is also disrupting the global economic and trade order, and damaging the credibility of the United States.

While threatening to leave Canada out of NAFTA, and brushing aside the European Union's offer of zero car tariffs, the bellicose Trump refreshed his threat on Thursday to "withdraw from the WTO".

Negotiations with Canada failed because Trump wanted to make no concession. He declined the EU offer saying that EU consumers are accustomed to buying European cars. He dislikes the WTO because the US he claims has "rarely won a lawsuit" there.

It looks like he will not be satisfied unless Canada one-sidedly concedes, Europe finds a way to make more of its consumers love American cars, and the WTO twists its rules to please the White House.

Washington has problems with almost all major countries, and the evidence points to it being the Trump administration's policies rather than the US' trade partners that are to blame. Ford is one of the top five best-selling car brands in Europe, and the US has won more than 90 percent of the cases it has filed as the complainant.

Rather than "making America great again", what Trump is doing is dragging the US image through the mud.

Trump has a wrong concept about what is "great". He believes that to be "great" the US must lord it over others. No trade rules will satisfy the Trump administration unless they are bent in favor of the US.

But it is rules that enable countries to trade with one another knowing they will both benefit from the process. Fair trade can only be guaranteed if all parties observe the same rules.

The WTO's dispute resolution system is the most effective mechanism for settling trade disputes. And the US has taken advantage of it more than any other country.

In his all-round assault on multilateral international mechanisms, the US president is displaying the typical populist disdain for constraints, as populists by their nature consider theirs to be the only legitimate views and only valid demands.

But perhaps another reason why the US administration is showing such animosity toward the WTO is because it wants to divert attention from the fact that its trade complaints don't have a leg to stand on.

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