Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Canada files WTO complaint over USA trade practices

Canada files WTO complaint over USA trade practices

Details of the WTO filing released Wednesday referenced almost 200 instances Canada claims the Americans breeched global trade rules by imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.

"It's (saying), 'The entire way in which the us - you - are conducting your anti-dumping, countervailing procedures, is wrong,"' said Chad Bown, a trade expert at Washington's Peterson Institute.

Trump has also upset Canada by slapping punitive tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber exports, leading to a challenge by Ottawa at the WTO and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The filing also complained about USA treatment of export controls as well as the imposition of retroactive tariffs.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the WTO challenge is about the long-simmering trade dispute with the US over softwood lumber and is entirely separate from the NAFTA talks.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has dismissed the complaint, saying "Canada's claims are unfounded and could only lower U.S. confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade".

The irony here is that Canada is making the same complaint about the United States. There are 122 instances involving various countries listed in the WTO filing, which dates to December.

"Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests", he said. He explained, "Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada".

Lighthizer also issued a cloaked warning that may be aimed at continued NAFTA talks.

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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Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the legal action was in response to the "unfair and unwarranted" US duties against Canada's softwood lumber producers and part of a "broader litigation" to defend forestry jobs.

But it also goes well beyond Canada-U.S. softwood lumber spats, citing alleged global trade breaches by the U.S. against a host of imported products, from Argentine lemon juice to frozen shrimp from India.

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

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.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. "Unfortunately, it is American consumers who pay the price of unfair duties", Garneau said in a statement.

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