Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Canada Goes Toe-to-Toe With US Trade Policy

Canada Goes Toe-to-Toe With US Trade Policy

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

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.

"Canada considers the measures relating to US anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigations, reviews or other proceedings are inconsistent with USA obligations under the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes", the document's preamble states.

Canada appeared to be mounting a case on behalf of the rest of the world, since it cited nearly 200 examples of alleged USA wrongdoing, nearly all of them concerning other trading partners, such as China, India, Brazil and the European Union.

Last month a USA trade panel locked in hefty subsidies on softwood lumber.

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

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

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US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has described Canada's move as "ill-advised attack". 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. But he questioned the strategic logic of antagonizing the Trump administration in the midst of NAFTA talks. One of the United States' demands in the NAFTA renegotiation is chapter 19's elimination.

If these countries can defend and promote their own interests, why shouldn't Canada? It follows a series of similar penalties as the USA alleges unfair trade practices by Canada in the form of softwood lumber and Bombardier subsidies.

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

Filing the complaint is referred to as a request for consultations.

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

In October, for example, the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped an 80 percent anti-dumping duty on Bombardier's delivery of 100- to 150-seat C Series planes in the United States.

Anticipating an imminent USA retreat from NAFTA, the Canadian government has made a decision to go on the offensive in managing its trade relations with our Southern neighbor.

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