The World Trade Organization is necessary but needs "fine tuning" to improve the dispute settlement procedure between countries, new US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Trump administration harshly criticized the WTO, accusing it of being "incapable" of sanctioning unfair trade practices and saying its decisions are not to be binding on the United States.
"The WTO is in some ways very necessary. You probably do need an arbiter of some sort if you're going to have international trade," Ross said in an interview with CNBC.
The new official, however, said questions remain about how the WTO operates and whether its dispute settlement procedure is "fair."
"From the point of view of the United States, there's some fine tuning at least that I think should be needed at the WTO," Ross said.
During his campaign, President Donald Trump described the global trade referee as a "disaster" and promised a more aggressive approach to open up foreign markets to US companies, including threatening to unilaterally imposing tariffs.
Ross acknowledged that the United States could be exposed to trade retaliation by its partners.
"You can assume that whatever overt action we take, there'll be some kind of counterpunch coming from whoever is the other party," he predicted.