Although Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) strongly disagrees with some of the Trump administration’s trade policies, he was quick to point out some areas of common ground in an interview with Reason on Wednesday, particularly with regards to the World Trade Organization.
“His intuition on some of these things is right,” Massie said.
“I do not like the fact that Congress is now subservient to the World Trade Organization. Everything that you purchase has a country of origin label on it … but we were told in Congress a few years ago that the World Trade Organization had ruled and we were going to have to remove country of origin labeling from beef and pork because it created a hardship for cattle and pigs that were coming from Canada and from Mexico.”
He continued by backing the administration’s renewed focus on bilateral trade agreements, rather than multilateral deals in the vein of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“These are not judges at the World Trade Organization that are appointed by Congress, by elected officials, and so when the President speaks about going more to bilateral agreements than a multilateral agreement which requires some kind of world government, not to sound conspiratorial, but that’s what it is, it’s a world court…”
“…Heavily tilted in favor of the United States, which wins almost all the disputes,” interjected interviewer Matt Welch.
“Well, we lost the one with Canada and Mexico,” Massie replied.
While he was unsure how the Trump administration’s unconventional approach to trade would pan out, he did not rule out the possibility that it could yield positive results.
“I don’t know, let’s see. We’ve got a great test case. Things could turn out wonderfully – the tariffs could go away.”
Trump has at times suggested that his ultimate goal is the removal of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers. On Wednesday, Trump announced that the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had agreed to work towards the goal of “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”