Canada Goes Toe-to-Toe With US Trade Policy

14 January, 2018, 00:08 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Canada Launches Trade Dispute Against US in WTO, Washington Strikes Back

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.

On Wednesday the country requested that the World Trade Organization step in to review certain USA trade actions and whether they're in accordance with its obligations as a member of the WTO.

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.

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

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that Canada's complaint is a "broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".

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.

It also might result in a flood of imports from other countries - if the complaint successfully have American tariffs removed - and cost Canada billions of dollars in exports to the US, Lighthizer said. "Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada", he said. "It's nearly like Canada is fighting this on behalf of the worldwide community". 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.


The thinly veiled threat gives new rise to concerns for positive progress in the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations ahead of the next round of talks set for January 23 in Montreal.

Under WTO dispute resolution rules, other countries named in the complaint can decide to take part in consultations after an initial reading.

The U.S. used the same argument it did in imposing stiff duties against softwood lumber: that the Canadian companies received unfair subsidies from the Canadian government.

"In a normal situation you wouldn't expect this to impact the long-term trading relationship that we've got under NAFTA", he said.

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department announced a preliminary decision to apply new tariffs on imports of certain Canadian paper that it argued received subsidies. The U.S. imports about $1.6 billion a year in Canadian newsprint.

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

"This has been a chronic problem for us", he said.

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