President Donald Trump's remark about possibly withdrawing the U.S. from the World Trade Organization is not a new sentiment and not a cause for panic, the WTO director general said, downplaying the line that rocked media headlines.
Many diplomats say that although they dislike the USA tactics, they agree that the WTO needs reform, and hope that the situation can be used to make the 23-year-old trading club more efficient and effective. He added that if the body "does not shape up, I could withdraw from the WTO".
The president has often complained that the United States is treated unfairly in global trade, and has blamed the WTO for allowing that to happen. In the previous year, we're starting to win a lot.
Lighthizer has accused the WTO dispute-settlement system of interfering with USA sovereignty, particularly on anti-dumping cases.
The U.S. on Monday told the WTO that it plans to block the reappointment of one of the its four remaining judges, a move that would significantly hinder the organization's ability to function.
He has also criticized WTO previously, saying that the USA has been "treated very badly" by the group. "The US concerns about areas in the WTO that they would like to improve are not new".
"Everyone that would like to see improvements in the WTO is very welcome to present their ideas and their suggestions to improve the organisation, sit down with the other members and get the job done", he said.
Countries that file complaints with the WTO tend to prevail and defendants in trade disputes lose.
Since World War II, successive USA presidents have led efforts to establish and strengthen global trading rules, arguing that they would bring stability to the world economy.