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The Trade Issue

The WTO Must Reform or Die

Donald Trump’s trade salvos have shaken the World Trade Organization at a perilous time for commerce.

WTO Lead

Illustration: Dexter Maurer

America’s longest-serving secretary of state, Cordell Hull, is best known for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in establishing the United Nations at the end of World War II. Today, 75 years later, another important piece of his legacy looks increasingly at risk as President Donald Trump realigns the U.S.’s relationships across the globe.

Hull helped create the modern global trading system that eventually led to the advent of the World Trade Organization in 1995. He viewed tariff battles as a threat to international peace and advocated for unconditional trade liberalization among nations. Indeed, he considered barriers to the exchange of goods and unfair economic competition as synonymous with war.