The WTO revealed on Wednesday that Canada had filed a complaint last month accusing the U.S. of unfairly imposing countervailing and anti-dumping duties, not only on Canadian softwood lumber but also on goods from many other countries.
Trade lawyer Mark Warner said Canada may have some merit to its case, but he questioned the timing as the latest round of NAFTA negotiations are due to be held in Montreal later this month. "I'd think you're giving more ammunition to an administration that has taken the position that the WTO and bi-national panels infringe on the sovereignty of the United States".
"These rates tabled lby the USA on uncoated groundwood paper represent the third action that stands to hurt hard working men and women in our mill communities across Canada", says Derek Nighbor, CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada. 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.
Canada is in essence arguing that the American use of anti-dumping and countervailing duties violates global trade rules.
Lighthizer argued that a win for Canada would mainly help other countries like China, which would take any opportunity to dump their low-cost imports into the US market.
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 January 23 in Montreal.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has described Canada's move as "ill-advised attack".
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Corporate earnings were also in focus in Japan. "But even if they do, they would do it in a way that won't disrupt the market ". Optimism about upcoming US earnings also helped USA stocks, which resumed their 2018 rally to hit record closing highs.
He called it surprising that Canada is taking its action against an administration that already dislikes the WTO, and has sabotaged the appointment of new WTO judges.
"Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada".
Though Canada certainly has plenty of domestic interest in pushing against the trade policies of its southern neighbor, its filing is about more than its own trade disputes. "But with the Trump administration being relatively new, and because of the protectionist noises we've been hearing from them, it's not at all clear what sort of reaction the USA might have".
"For example, if the USA 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 almost $9 billion in exports of steel and aluminium products and more than $2.5 billion in exports of wood and paper products".
"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".
"It's interesting that Canada has chosen to file such a broad complaint", Boscariol told CBA National.
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