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Canada Launches Global Trade Complaint Against US Over Use of Duties

Canada Launches Global Trade Complaint Against US Over Use of 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. "It's nearly like Canada is fighting this on behalf of the worldwide community ..."

The complaint, filed last month but released January 10, comes just as the United States announces duties of up to nine percent on Canadian paper, and follows a series of similar penalties as Washington alleges unfair trade practices from Canada in the form of softwood lumber and Bombardier subsidies.

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.

We'll see if other countries decide to join Canada in stepping forward to complain about USA trade practices. 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.

"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.

Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said in a statement: "For decades, the Canadian lumber industry has been subject to unfair and unwarranted duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and has filed appeals under the NAFTA and WTO agreements. Canada and the US 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".

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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. Even if Canada succeeded with their claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada, Lighthizer argued.

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.

Canada lodged a World Trade Organization complaint accusing the US of regularly breaching global trade laws through various countervailing and anti-dumping duties, citing almost 200 examples spanning several decades.

"Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests", he said.

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

Lighthizer questioned why Canada filed so many complaints that included other countries.