Canada takes USA to WTO in wide-ranging trade complaint

Canada takes USA to WTO in wide-ranging trade complaint

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.

In almost all cases, duties were imposed after the Commerce Department and ITA investigated charges by U.S. companies or industries, which claim to have been harmed by unfair import competition.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties - punitive tariffs to restrict imports that are unfairly priced or subsidised in order to beat the competition - are a core component of Washington's trade arsenal, and frequently used to defend USA interests.

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Among other charges, Canada says the United States improperly restricts parties from presenting evidence to defend themselves, with a cut-off for supplying information that comes too early in the process. The calculations the U.S. uses has been "ruled to be out of line" with the WTO rulebook.

But by listing almost all trade enforcement actions by the Trump administration, the Canadian complaint also supports dozens of countries affected by the recent imposition of both preliminary and permanent USA duties.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer issued a rebuttal calling Canada's case an "ill-advised attack on the USA trade remedies system".

The Trump administration has begun vigorously enforcing United States trade laws by backing United States companies and industries that complain of harm from unfair trade by imposing duties on imports.

The 32-page complaint homed in on technical details of the U.S. trade rulebook, ranging from the U.S. treatment of export controls to the use of retroactive duties and split decisions by the six-member U.S. International Trade Commission.

The action comes amid disputes between the two countries over issues such as dairy, aircraft sales and lumber as well as tense efforts to renegotiate the North American free trade deal.

Canada filed the petition with the WTO on 20 December.

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