The US can't have its WTO and disregard it too


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

The 32-page complaint challenges Washington's use of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, arguing it goes against WTO rules.

Thirty-two-page complaint by Canada cites USA investigations of products from countries around the world, with decisions that date back to 1996.

The announcement of the case comes ahead of the January 23 start of the next round of trade talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement in Montreal.

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

"Canada considers the measures relating to USA anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigations, reviews or other proceedings are inconsistent with US obligations under the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes", the document's preamble states.

By filing a WTO complaint over USA use of punitive duties, and charging that the 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 T├ętrault.

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He pointed out that the vast majority of cases Canada is complaining about don't even involve Canadian companies.

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

Canadian newsprint joined softwood lumber as the latest commodity to incur USA import duties, with up to 9 percent levied on various companies.

Publication of the complaint came just hours after the U.S. Commerce Department placed preliminary duties on Canadian exports of uncoated groundwood paper, which is used to manufacture newspapers, soft-cover books and phone directories.

"These duties are unwarranted and without merit and we 100 per cent support the federal government's WTO filing position". The U.S. imports about $1.6 billion a year in Canadian newsprint. Otherwise Canada, which sends 75 percent of its goods exports to the U.S., could ask the trade organization to adjudicate. "Unfortunately, it is American consumers who pay the price of unfair duties", Garneau said in a statement.

"Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on US newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector", the ministers said in a joint release.

Trade relations between the countries have experienced some stumbling points as the sides are deadlocked in unsuccessful negotiations over NAFTA, the trade pact signed by the US, Canada, and Mexico in 1994 and based on the fundamental principle of tariff-elimination across North America.