Canada Goes Toe-to-Toe With US Trade Policy

Canada's WTO complaint against US could scuttle NAFTA Expert

"Canada's claims are unfounded and could only lower USA confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade", Lighthizer said in a statement.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer commented on the move, saying that Canada's protest against recent US trade actions in a complaint to the WTO is "a broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".

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.

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Put another way, Canada may be taking on the United States on behalf of the rest of the world, whether by default or construction.

Canada launched the opening salvo in a trade war with the United States Wednesday, lodging an global complaint about the superpower's use of punitive duties.

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.

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Anti-dumping and countervailing duties - punitive tariffs to restrict imports that are unfairly priced or subsidised in order to beat the competition - are a core component of Washington's trade arsenal, and frequently used to defend US interests.

The file was made public on Wednesday and cites almost 200 complaints by Canada against the USA, many of which include Canada's trading partners such as China, India, Brazil, and the European Union.

It says the USA levies penalties beyond what's allowed by the WTO, improperly calculates rates, and unfairly declares penalties retroactive, while also limiting evidence from outside parties.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has threatened to expand the use of punitive duties against China and has angered Beijing by refusing to accede to China's demand to be treated as any other "market economy". The filing has potentially strengthened Canada's hand in the NAFTA renegotiations, all the while putting pressure on the U.S.in the softwood lumber dispute, among others.

"The U.S.is trying to bully us, and we're not going to stand for it", said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. If the Trump administration undermines the WTO and even comes to reject it, then Canada is plenty justified in insisting to keep chapter 19 in NAFTA, since there would not be an alternative independent institution to deal with national countervailing and anti-dumping duties in North America. "I wonder why would you bring this complaint now".

Though Canada certainly has plenty of domestic interest in pushing against the trade policies of its southern neighbor, its filing is about more than its own trade disputes.

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