Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Canada complains to WTO, says U.S. breached trade rules

Canada complains to WTO, says U.S. breached trade rules

Canada has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) amid a dispute with the USA, a day after its newsprint became the latest product to be slapped with import duties by Washington. "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". The filing has potentially strengthened Canada's hand in the NAFTA renegotiations, all the while putting pressure on the U.S.in the softwood lumber dispute, among others.

In the 32-page complaint, Canada detailed areas where they argue that the United States' tariff investigations and reviews have been inconsistent with its obligations under several WTO agreements.

It's possible other countries may join this complaint as intervenors, making it a bigger and more embarrassing problem for the USA government.

"This sends a signal to the Trump administration that if NAFTA is going to end, and we are going to be treated no better than other countries in the world, then this is the kind of treatment you can expect to receive in return", said Mr. Bown, a former official in the Obama administration and at the World Bank. But he questioned the strategic logic of antagonizing the Trump administration in the midst of NAFTA talks.

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. He explained, "Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada".

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


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

Canada claims the U.S.is guilty of breaking three basic WTO rules: the anti-dumping agreement, another on subsidies and a third on understanding the settlement of disputes mechanism. "Canada and the USA share a longstanding and important relationship, but in the face of these unfounded trade actions it's important that our government defends Canada's interests".

If the US removed the orders in the complaint, Lighthizer said Canadian exports would be negatively impacted, including steel and aluminum and wood and paper products, Lighthizer said in his statement.

"This WTO action is part of our broader litigation to defend the hundreds of thousands of good, middle class forestry jobs across our country", said Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, in a statement".

A wide-ranging trade complaint has been filed by Canada against the U.S., accusing it of breaking worldwide trade rules.

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