Canada files almost 200 trade complaints against US

Canada files almost 200 trade complaints against US

By filing a WTO complaint over USA use of punitive duties, and charging that the U.S.is in violation of worldwide trade rules, not just in its dealings with us but other countries such as China, "Canada is taking a run against the entire USA trade regime", says John Boscariol, a trade lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault. "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".

Canada says the United States is breaking WTO rules in myriad ways, including by retroactively applying duties on foreign imports it deems to be subsidized or dumped, and using the lowest price it can find - rather than the average - when calculating alleged infractions.

The file was made public on Wednesday and cites almost 200 complaints by Canada against the USA, many of which include Canada's trading partners such as China, India, Brazil, and the European Union.

Further to the WTO complaint, Lighthizer said, "Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests".

The 32-page filing not only accuses the USA of improperly imposing duties on Canadian products but also on those of other trading partners, including Brazil, China, EU and India.

Canadian officials did not make an announcement with the release of the WTO filing but did respond to the newsprint duties.

The reason Canada did this, says Boscariol, is in large part because of the softwood lumber, but by taking on the entire US trade remedies system, Canada is taking the position that the USA, as our most important customer, must be held to WTO rules when it imposes these anti-dumping and countervailing measures that hamper free trade. Mr. Trump has complained the organization, which came into being because of US support, is biased against American interests. But he questioned the strategic logic of antagonizing the Trump administration in the midst of NAFTA talks.

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Chad Bown, an economist and trade expert at the Peterson Institute in Washington, said Canada's WTO move sends a stark message to Mr. Trump amid NAFTA talks: If you kill the deal, this is how Canada will fight you in trade disputes.

Steep import duties leveled by the US have become a regular fixture of the industry, according to Joel Neuheimer, a vice-president at the Forest Products Association of Canada.

"If Canada loses Chapter 19, it would have to go to the WTO", said Warner.

Canada's complaint coincides with separate trilateral negotiations to revise NAFTA, which created an open trading system between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

This is hardly Donald Trump's first protectionist action against Canada.

Canada believes Mr. Trump's threat is serious: One source said Ottawa was ready for the President to pull the plug last fall and was surprised when the United States instead extended the negotiations to March.

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