Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced legislation last week to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The WTO has been a disaster for the United States. With millions of jobs exported, ballooning trade deficits, and the erosion of U.S. sovereignty, the WTO has a 25-year track record of putting the profits of multinational corporations above the interests of American workers,” said Chair DeFazio. “COVID-19 has exposed how the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs, particularly manufacturing jobs, to China and other countries has significantly undermined our ability to respond to the global pandemic. The United States needs to withdraw from the WTO to strengthen and protect our manufacturing base, public health and safety, industry and jobs, U.S. sovereignty, and the environment.”
“After 25 years of participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO), our workers have seen little to no benefits for their families and have instead watched as the WTO gives countries like China protections to use tariffs and other unfair trade practices to its advantage,” said Chair Pallone. “It is time for the United States to withdraw from this institution and start prioritizing American workers over international corporations. This resolution is an important first step in the withdrawal process and I hope my colleagues will join Chairman DeFazio and myself with their support.”
The Uruguay Round Agreements Act (P.L. 103-465), the statutory basis for U.S. WTO membership, specifies that Congress’s approval of the WTO agreement shall cease to be effective if Congress enacts a joint resolution calling for withdrawal. Congress may vote every five years on withdrawal, with the next possible consideration in 2020.
The House most recently voted to withdraw from the WTO in 2005, with both DeFazio and Pallone voting in support of that resolution. The Senate has never voted on WTO withdrawal.
DeFazio cites a 2018 Economic Policy Institute report found that China’s entry into the WTO has caused the U.S. to shed 3.4 million jobs since 2001, with nearly 75 percent of jobs lost in the manufacturing sector.