Canada launches WTO trade complaint against US

14 January, 2018, 00:05 | Author: Malcolm Fuller
  • Canada launches global trade complaint against US

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer commented on the move, saying that Canada's protest against recent US trade actions in a complaint to the WTO is "a broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".

The WTO revealed on Wednesday that Canada had filed a complaint last month accusing the USA of unfairly imposing countervailing and anti-dumping duties, not only on Canadian softwood lumber but also on goods from many other countries.

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Canada's first motivation for going to the WTO is to show the Americans (and the rest of the world) that it will not cave in to its larger economic partners when they put undue pressure on Canadian economy and businesses.

"For example, if the USA removed the orders listed in Canada's complaint, the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the United States, including almost $9 billion in exports of steel and aluminum products and more than $2.5 billion in exports of wood and paper products".

Champagne's assertion comes a day after it was revealed that Canada has initiated a wide-ranging attack at the World Trade Organization on America's use of punitive duties.

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Anti-dumping and countervailing duties - punitive tariffs to restrict imports that are unfairly priced or subsidised in order to beat the competition - are a core component of Washington's trade arsenal, and frequently used to defend USA interests.

For example, Canada says that the United States not only applied anti-dumping tariffs "in excess of WTO-consistent rates" but also miscalculated subsidies used to determine the level of penalties. It also accuses the United States of using a trade-panel voting system that's biased against foreigners. The disputes over paper, lumber, aerospace, and now trade in general are occurring just as the countries prepare to meet in Montreal later this month for a potentially pivotal round of NAFTA negotiations.

Canada and the US are continuing to negotiate over the North American Free Trade Agreement, with the next round of talks scheduled for January 23, the Washington Examiner reported. But he questioned the strategic logic of antagonizing the Trump administration in the midst of NAFTA talks. "This is effectively Canada bringing a dispute on behalf of all exporters in the world - the Europeans, Japan, China - because they're making a systemic challenge".

Even so, any complaint before the WTO will take years, and the effort is further complicated by the fact that the Trump administration is blocking new appointments to the WTO's appellate body.

If these countries can defend and promote their own interests, why shouldn't Canada?

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