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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.