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Ross says talk of Trump leaving the WTO are 'premature'

Ross says talk of Trump leaving the WTO are 'premature'
© Anna Moneymaker

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE said Monday the U.S. is not planning an imminent departure from the World Trade Organization (WTO) despite President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE's frustrations with the global body.

Ross said it is "little premature" to talk about withdrawing from the WTO, which has delivered regular trade victories to the United States.

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"We've made no secret of our view that there are some reforms needed at the WTO," Ross said in a CNBC "Squawk Box" interview.

He said that WTO members have acknowledged that reforms are needed.

On Sunday, Axios reported that the White House has drafted a bill that would allow Trump to skirt Congress and WTO rules on trade, giving him the power to raise tariffs and set different rates for member countries with little to no oversight, running afoul of long-established global trade rules.

Trump said on Friday that he had no plans to exit the WTO after reports that he had told White House aides that he wanted out because the U.S. isn't getting a fair shake at the Geneva-based body.

The legislation stands little chance of passing on Capitol Hill, where support for the WTO has remained strong. 

Congress gets a chance to vote every five years on whether to stay in the group. No votes were taken in 2010 or 2015 and the next possible vote wouldn't be held until 2020. 

Trump has railed against the WTO saying the United States hasn't been "treated fairly" and that the trading group is a "catastrophe" and a "disaster for us."

He has said that China's 2001 entry into the global body facilitated the greatest "job theft in the history of our country."