Canada launches WTO trade complaint against US

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The Canadian government has launched a sweeping World Trade Organization complaint against a litany of USA trade practices, alleging almost 200 violations of WTO rules by US investigators reaching back more than 20 years, according to documents published Wednesday.

The irony here is that Canada is making the same complaint about the United States.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland indicated that the step was a necessary response to the earlier softwood lumber dispute, though, the document attacks the entire United States system, not just the decisions on softwood lumber.

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

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The WTO filing comes less than two weeks before the sixth round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks between the two countries and Mexico resume January 23 in Montreal.

If Canada is successful at the WTO, the United States may have to change the way it approaches trade remedies cases.

Further to the WTO complaint, Lighthizer said, "Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests". But he questioned the strategic logic of antagonizing the Trump administration in the midst of NAFTA talks.

However, Canada's strategy is "particularly unwise", Warner told Xinhua. Chapter 19 allows the parties to bypass the national judicial system to challenge countervailing and anti-dumping duties.

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Canada has launched a wide-ranging trade dispute against the United States, challenging Washington's use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, according to a World Trade Organization filing dated December 20 and published Wednesday.

With its WTO filing, Canada is forcing the United States to put its logic to the test. "It's nearly like Canada is fighting this on behalf of the global community ..."

Warner believes that the Canadian government may be playing to a domestic audience in demonstrating that it is not only being "very assertive" in addressing trade disputes, but that it is also trying to "embarrass the Americans" before the world by citing nearly 180 trade breaches over two decades against other countries listed on 24 pages of Canada's 32-page complaint before the WTO.

Canada said USA procedures broke the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes.

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Ideally, Canada would want to keep both chapter 19 and the United States' commitment to the WTO, since it gives it more ammunition in disputes. Canada's claims threaten the ability of all countries to defend their workers against unfair trade.

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