'Canada's WTO complaint against U.S. could scuttle NAFTA'

Postado Janeiro 12, 2018

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has described Canada's move as "ill-advised attack".

The 32-page complaint cites dozens of examples unrelated to Canada, including 122 cases where the United States imposed duties on foreign countries.

The action comes amid disputes between the two countries over areas such as dairy, aircraft sales and lumber as well as efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Today's preliminary decision allows US producers to receive relief from the market-distorting effects of potential government subsidies", said Ross in a statement, instructing Customs and Border Protection agents to begin collecting cash deposits from paper importers at the border.

The wide-ranging trade dispute, which was filed with the WTO in December and released publicly on Wednesday, is mostly in response to the steep anti-dumping and countervailing duties that the United States has recently slapped on Canada's softwood lumber industry.

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

Almost half the cases the Trudeau government is championing in its WTO filing are instances in which the United States has penalized shipments from China that it considers subsidized or dumped at below-cost prices.

He added that Canada is against its own interests and would not benefit even if the case succeeds.

Lighthizer also issued a cloaked warning that may be aimed at continued NAFTA talks. We know that when unbiased entities review these unfair trade practices, they have found in Canada's favour.

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

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

On Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that Washington would impose countervailing duties of between 6 and 10 percent on uncoated groundwood Canadian paper.

He said it could be another step toward what he says is a nightmare scenario for the NAFTA talks, which is that the Americans call a halt to those negotiations and talk separately with Mexico in hopes of signing a bilateral deal before the Mexican elections later this year and USA midterm Congressional elections this fall. Otherwise Canada, which sends 75 percent of its goods exports to the United States, could ask the trade organization to adjudicate.

Tuesday's decision prompted Canada's foreign ministry put out a statement calling the move disappointing and "unjustified" (and noting, correctly, that "any duties will have a direct and negative impact on ‎U.S. newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, ‎and result in job losses in the American printing sector‎").