Donald Trump has once again referred to the United States as a “developing nation” while slamming the World Trade Organisation, claiming its policies favour Beijing over Washington during a press briefing at the White House.
The president made the remarks on Wednesday during a briefing with members of his administration’s coronavirus response task force.
He said the organisation has been “treating the United States for decades so badly, and they’ve been so in favour of China” while adding: “China took off when it joined the World Trade Organisation, because of what’s happened.”
“Think of it: they’re considered a developing nation … and we’re not, “ Mr Trump said. “Well, we’re a developing nation, too, in my book, okay? We’re developing too.”
The president has ramped up his criticism of the Chinese government in recent days, pointing his finger at groups like the World Health Organisation for supporting claims from Beijing in the initial months of the Covid-19 outbreak that said there were no reported human-to-human transmissions of the novel virus. His comments come as the administration has attempted to cast blame for the country’s widespread outbreak on China, where the disease was believed to have originated.
Just two days earlier, Mr Trump announced he was temporarily suspending the nation’s funding of the WHO while accusing it of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus”, citing the group’s “disastrous” opposition to his ban on travel from China during the initial weeks of the pandemic.
“With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America’s generosity has been put to the best use possible”, the president said.
It’s not the first time he’s asserted the US was a developing nation while rebuking the World Trade Organisation’s policies.
Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Trump said he had “a dispute” running with the organisation “for quite a while” because the US “hasn’t been treated fairly”.
“China is viewed as a developing nation. India is viewed as a developing nation. We’re not viewed as a developing nation,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re a developing nation too.”
He added: “They got tremendous advantages by the fact that they were considered ‘developing’ and we weren’t. And they shouldn’t be. But if they are, we are.”
The president also said at the time that his administration was “talking about a whole new structure” with the World Trade Organisation, adding: “Or we’ll have to do something.”
The World Trade Organisation has said its rules for developing countries allow poorer populations to grow into the global trade system by reducing poverty and increasing employment and financial opportunities for citizens.
The Trump administration has sought to make it easier for nearly two dozen countries identified as developing nations to face penalties by the World Trade Organisation, and reduced its own list of developing and least-developed countries.