World Trade Organization logo. Photo: THOMAS COEX / Staff/Getty Images

The Trump administration issued a memo Friday directing the U.S. trade representative to seek to change the way the World Trade Organization treats some foreign competitors of the U.S.

What they're saying: The action would target countries including China, Singapore, Korea, Mexico, Qatar and Turkey that self-declare as developing countries in order to claim special and differential treatment in WTO negotiations, a source familiar with the planning said.

"The memo directs us to devote resources to changing this so that advanced, wealthy or influential countries can not avail themselves of unwarranted benefits despite abundant evidence of economic strength," the source added.

Why it matters: President Trump has long been frustrated with the WTO and has, at times, privately called for it to be abolished. But this action will likely be a relief to free trade advocates who have worried about the president taking more drastic action.

The directive is in line with a U.S. proposal tabled at the WTO in February, the source said.

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

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