June 17, 2020 / 3:46 PM / 24 days ago

U.S. wants WTO head who understands problems dealing with China: Lighthizer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday said he viewed the World Trade Organization as “a mess”, and efforts to find a new leader for the Geneva-based agency could provide an opportunity to advance needed reforms.

Lighthizer told a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that Washington expected the next WTO director general to back the need for reforms and understand the problems of free economies in dealing with China.

“I think we need a director general that understands that an extremely large state-run economy cannot be disciplined under the current WTO rules,” Lighthizer said, referring to longstanding U.S. complaints about China’s unfair trade practices. If the candidates had any “whiff of anti-Americanism” in their past, that would also draw a U.S. veto, he said.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Franklin Paul

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