What is the WTO and could it help stave off a US-China trade war?

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The World Trade Organization—WTO—was created over two decades ago to create a set of rules and regulations for international trade. So, what happens when those rules are circumvented?

The current trade disputes between the U.S. and China may be wading into those waters.

In March, U.S. President Donald Trump took a trade action aimed at reducing the more than $375 billion trade deficit the U.S. has with China.

“China has the determination and capability to take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests. They may have their list, but we also have our own,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said during an April 3 briefing.

In 1999, the WTO ruled that economically powerful countries must not threaten others with unilateral action.

“We keep stressing is that our door to negotiation is always open. We want to resolve trade disputes and properly deal with the relevant issues with the US side through dialogue and consultation, and we want to do that based on international law and trade rules, not on some domestic laws of the US,” Shuang added.