Updated Jul 7, 2018

By the numbers: Here's how "badly" the WTO treats the U.S.

 South Korean farmers protest against the sixth World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference December 13, 2005 in Hong Kong.

South Korean farmers protest the WTO in Hong Kong in 2005. Photo: MN Chan/Getty

President Trump said Monday that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has treated the U.S. "very badly" and if nothing changes "we will be doing something."

Why it matters: The WTO regulates 98% of global trade, and is largely seen as beneficial to the United States. Exiting the organization would likely raise prices on imported goods and make it more difficult for exporters.

By the numbers:

  • The United States wins 87% of the cases it brings to the WTO against other countries.
  • The U.S. files more cases with the WTO than any other nation, ahead of the EU and Canada.
  • Other countries file more cases against the U.S. than any other nation, ahead of the EU and China.
  • The U.S. loses 75% of the cases filed against them in the WTO. These winning and losing records are both better than average for members.
  • It takes six months for a country to file a withdrawal notice with the WTO and for it to go into effect, if the U.S. were to exit the organization.
  • Two-thirds of cases are settled between countries before they reach a WTO panel.
  • Trade made up 27% of the U.S. GDP in 2016.
  • In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump said the WTO was a "disaster" and proposed a 35% tariff on Mexican imports and 45% on Chinese imports. Countries subject to Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs are filing challenges with the WTO, saying they violate terms of the agreement.

Don't forget: Membership in the WTO grants the U.S. preferential access to markets of other members, even if relations are geopolitically rocky. If the U.S. were to leave, they would have to negotiate lots of other free trade agreements; current free trade agreements only cover 40% of trade.

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