Canada mounts WTO challenge amid worries of US NAFTA split

Canada launches global trade complaint against US

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called the move "an ill-advised attack" on the American system for monitoring foreign trade.

"These rates tabled lby the US on uncoated groundwood paper represent the third action that stands to hurt hard working men and women in our mill communities across Canada", says Derek Nighbor, CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada.

He said that during the current NAFTA negotiations, which enter the sixth round in Canada later this month, the United States has made it clear that it wants to remove a dispute-resolution mechanism for anti-dumping and countervailing cases under Chapter 19 of the 24-year-old trilateral trade agreement.

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.

WASHINGTON-Canada has launched a wide-ranging attack against American trade practices in a broad worldwide complaint over that country's use of punitive duties-a move the United States is calling "broad and ill-advised".

The complaint marks Canada's most exhaustive attempt yet to counter recent import duties imposed by the USA, particularly on Canadian softwood lumber products. Sands, who said the move may have come because Canadian trade negotiators and politicians believe the strategy of playing nice with the Trump administration has not paid dividends.

"If Canada loses Chapter 19, it would have to go to the WTO", said Warner. "I wonder why would you bring this complaint now".

He further called Canada's accusations "unfounded" and said that they "could only lower USA confidence" that its neighbor is committed to mutually beneficial trade.

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Even so, any complaint before the WTO will take years, and the effort is further complicated by the fact that the Trump administration is blocking new appointments to the WTO's appellate body. USA trade remedies ensure that trade is fair by counteracting dumping or subsidies that are injuring US workers, farmers, and manufacturers.

The highly technical 32-page complaint lists 122 trade enforcement actions undertaken by the Trump administration, dealing with imports ranging from Chinese steel to pasta made in Italy.

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.

"For example, if the USA removed the orders listed in Canada's complaint, the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the United States, including almost US$9 billion in exports of steel and aluminum products and more than $2.5 billion in exports of wood and paper products", he said.

"Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests", Lighthizer added.

"Canada's claims threaten the ability of all countries to defend their workers against unfair trade".

The complaint covers actions taken against not just Canada but countries all around the world, from Japan to South Africa.

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