Canada files WTO complaint over U.S. trade practices

Kristopher Drake
January 14, 2018

"Canada's claims are unfounded and could only lower USA confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade", he said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called Canada's action an "ill-advised attack on the U.S. trade remedies system".

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the WTO challenge is about the long-simmering trade dispute with the USA over softwood lumber and is entirely separate from the NAFTA talks.

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Canada has had it up to here with the United States and its trade remedy measures.

Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Mark Warner said the complaints might have some merit, and Canada is well within its rights to complain to the WTO.

With the list of trade irritants between Canada and the United States growing day by day, Ottawa has launched a wide-ranging trade complaint against its southern neighbour, over Washington's increasingly protectionist trade practices, according to a World Trade Organization filing dated December 20 and published Wednesday.

In almost all cases, duties were imposed after the Commerce Department and ITA investigated charges by U.S. companies or industries, which claim to have been harmed by unfair import competition.

The complaint, filed last month but released January 10, comes just as the United States announces duties of up to nine percent on Canadian paper, and follows a series of similar penalties as Washington alleges unfair trade practices from Canada in the form of softwood lumber and Bombardier subsidies.

"This isn't going to calm passions in Montreal", Warner told The Canadian Press.

The 32-page complaint challenges Washington's use of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, arguing it goes against WTO rules.

It also might result in a flood of imports from other countries - if the complaint successfully have American tariffs removed - and cost Canada billions of dollars in exports to the US, Lighthizer said. "It's nearly like Canada is fighting this on behalf of the global community ... I wonder why would you bring this complaint now?" It has already lost a string of WTO disputes after its calculation methodology was ruled to be out of line with the WTO rulebook.

Canada has "thrown a grenade" at the U.S. filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against its southern neighbour's use of trade sanctions, which might wreck their current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, said an worldwide trade law expert.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has threatened to expand the use of punitive duties against China and has angered Beijing by refusing to accede to China's demand to be treated as any other "market economy".

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