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What's the strategy — Canada's WTO broadside
12 January 2018, 11:11 | Cesar Cruz
Canada Launches Trade Dispute Against US in WTO, Washington Strikes Back
Canada cites 188 examples of USA trade remedies in its claims, but only a handful involve US trade action against Canada and another 33 countries are mentioned. "This is effectively Canada bringing a dispute on behalf of all exporters in the world - the Europeans, Japan, China - because they're making a systemic challenge".
Details of the WTO filing released Wednesday referenced almost 200 instances Canada claims the Americans breeched global trade rules by imposing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties.
Mr. Bown said aggressively taking on the United States at the WTO is also something of an insurance policy for Canada: If NAFTA is torn up, or if the revised deal guts its dispute-settlement mechanisms - which the United States has proposed - Ottawa will have to rely on the WTO to pursue Washington.
The complaint marks Canada's most exhaustive attempt yet to counter recent import duties imposed by the USA, particularly on Canadian softwood lumber products. The negotiations certainly aren't unfamiliar with shows of muscle or grandstanding; think of the Trump administration's outrageous NAFTA demands, the threat to leave NAFTA, the softwood lumber dispute, the Boeing-Bombardier dispute and most recently, the newspaper dispute.
"This sends a signal to the Trump administration that if NAFTA is going to end, and we are going to be treated no better than other countries in the world, then this is the kind of treatment you can expect to receive in return", said Mr. Bown, a former official in the Obama administration and at the World Bank.
In a statement, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pushed back against Canada's case against the US, warning that Canada's "request for consultations at the WTO is a broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".
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The move was denounced by the US and had some trade experts worrying it could derail already tense negotiations to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Even so, any complaint before the WTO will take years, and the effort is further complicated by the fact that the Trump administration is blocking new appointments to the WTO's appellate body. "Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada". Ottawa's 32-page complaint packs a wallop, accusing the USA of violating WTO rules in anti-dumping and countervailing duty probes focused not.
The highly technical 32-page complaint lists 122 trade enforcement actions undertaken by the Trump administration, dealing with imports ranging from Chinese steel to pasta made in Italy.
"This WTO action is part of our broader litigation to defend the hundreds of thousands of good, middle class forestry jobs across our country", said Chrystia Freeland, Canada's minister of foreign affairs, in a statement".
Lighthizer questioned why Canada filed so many complaints that included other countries.
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