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Canada Airs Concerns About US Trade Measures in a Complaint with the WTO

Canada has had it up to here with the United States and its trade remedy measures.

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

“Canada considers the measures relating to U.S. anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigations, reviews or other proceedings are inconsistent with U.S. 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 WTO said in a statement.

In short, Canada’s complaint challenges the United States’ use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, pointing to nearly 200 instances where it believes the U.S. isn’t doing things in accordance with the rules.

The United States, however, disagrees.

In a statement in response to Canada’s move, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, “Canada’s new request for consultations at the WTO is a broad and ill-advised attack on the U.S. trade remedies system. U.S. trade remedies ensure that trade is fair by counteracting dumping or subsidies that are injuring U.S. workers, farmers, and manufacturers. Canada’s claims are unfounded and could only lower U.S. confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade.”

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 Jan. 23 in Montreal.

A Reuters exclusive released Wednesday citing two government sources, said Canada is growing more and more convinced that President Trump will pull the U.S. out of the NAFTA deal altogether.

“The government is increasingly sure about this…it is now planning for Trump to announce a withdrawal,” one unnamed source reportedly told Reuters.

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Canada has since pushed back on the claims alleged in Reuters’ report, saying it was “inaccurate” and that progress was made in the last round of talks and that it expects progress to continue in the next as well.

[Read more about NAFTA: NAFTA Prospects Grow Increasingly Grim as US Blames Canada, Mexico for Holding up the Deal]

Further to the WTO complaint, Lighthizer said, “Canada is acting against its own workers’ and businesses’ interests.” He explained, “Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada. For example, if the U.S. removed the orders listed in Canada’s complaint, the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the United States, including nearly $9 billion in exports of steel and aluminum products and more than $2.5 billion in exports of wood and paper products. Canada’s claims threaten the ability of all countries to defend their workers against unfair trade. Canada’s complaint is bad for Canada.”

Canada’s complaint with the WTO is a request for consultation, which formally initiates a dispute in the WTO. The WTO said in its statement that this now gives member parties an opportunity to discuss the matter at hand and find a solution. If after 60 days they still can’t settle the dispute, a panel will be called in to make a formal judgement.