Trump’s leadership is vital for world trading system

World Trade Organization Director-general Roberto Azevedo speaks at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group in Washington,

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) – The head of the World Trade Organization said on Wednesday the United States continued to hold a pivotal role in global commerce, and he would support the administration of Donald Trump in ensuring trade was a positive force for job creation.

“U.S. leadership in the global economy and the multilateral trading system remains vital,” WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo tweeted, while congratulating Trump on his presidential election victory.

“It’s clear many feel trade isn’t working for them. We must address this and ensure trade delivers the widest benefit to the most people.”

Trump has described the Geneva-based trading club as a “disaster” and suggested he could pull the United States out of the WTO if the rules proved an obstacle to his plans to protect U.S. manufacturing.

He has promised to punish U.S. firms that move jobs to Mexico and slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports to try to claw back a trade deficit with China that the U.S. government put at $367 billion in 2015.

Azevedo, whose leadership of the WTO gives him a role as a guardian of trade openness, has declined to criticize Trump’s remarks.

But Azevedo said in July that trade was “so obviously positive for every economy that it’s like trying to argue with a friend that he needs to breathe”.

In his tweeted reaction to Trump’s election, he said the WTO was “ready to support the administration to ensure trade is a positive element in a new strategy for development and job creation”.

His spokesman said Azevedo would not be commenting further on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Hugh Lawson and John Stonestreet)