Govt launches trade complaint against USA over duties

Posted January 14, 2018

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that Canada's complaint is a "broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".

The Canadian government has launched a sweeping World Trade Organization complaint against a litany of USA trade practices, alleging almost 200 violations of WTO rules by US investigators reaching back more than 20 years, according to documents published Wednesday.

According to a WTO filing dated December 20 and published on January 10, Canada has launched a trade dispute against the United States challenging its repeated use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade remedies.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said, "This WTO action is part of our broader litigation to defend the hundreds of thousands of good, middle class forestry jobs across our country".

We'll see if other countries decide to join Canada in stepping forward to complain about USA trade practices.

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.

NAFTA has been heavily criticized by Trump, who called it the "worst deal in U.S. history" and warned that he might scrap it.

Trade relations between the countries have experienced some stumbling points as the sides are deadlocked in unsuccessful negotiations over NAFTA, the trade pact signed by the US, Canada, and Mexico in 1994 and based on the fundamental principle of tariff-elimination across North America. The Canadian government is preparing for the possibility that Trump will withdraw from NAFTA, senior officials say, though they aren't entirely convinced that he will.

However, he explained that US President Donald Trump's administration "dislikes" the WTO's dispute-settlement body and believes that countries rely on it "inappropriately to achieve results they can't achieve through negotiations".

He added that Canada is against its own interests and would not benefit even if the case succeeds.

"We know that when unbiased entities review these unfair trade practices, they have found in Canada's favour", Yurkovich said in a statement.

The complaint is "certainly not typical", said Greg Kanargelidis, an global trade lawyer at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

A massive question is left unanswered: why did Canada file this request at the WTO while the NAFTA renegotiations are underway (and nothing short of arduous)?

Indeed, the Trump administration wasted no time expressing its displeasure.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department announced a preliminary decision to apply new tariffs on imports of certain Canadian paper that it argued received subsidies. According to the US Department of Commerce, Canadian newsprint paper exports to the United States totaled about 1.6 billion Dollars in 2016. "It's the same horror show over and over".