Canada lodges WTO complaint against the US

Posted on 15 Jan 2018 by Michael Cruickshank

The Canadian Government has a launched a broad-ranging complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the United States.

Canada and the US are locked in trade disputes over NAFTA. Image courtesy of Flickr - Jimw
Canada and the US are locked in trade disputes over NAFTA. Image courtesy of Flickr – Jimw.

The 32-page complaint accuses the US of multiple violations of anti-dumping and anti-subsidising rules going back more than 20 years.

Within the complaint, Canada alleges that the US improperly calculated rates and tariffs and that the US International Trade Commission is biased towards the country’s own interests.

US officials responded by saying that current system in place was fair, and contained important protections for local jobs.

“Canada’s new request for consultations at the WTO is a broad and ill-advised attack on the U.S. trade remedies system,” said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“US trade remedies ensure that trade is fair by counteracting dumping or subsidies that are injuring US workers, farmers, and manufacturers.”

This lengthy complaint comes amid tense trade negotiations between the US and Canada over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

US President Trump has in the past said that he would aim to scrap the agreement, which he claims causes his country to lose jobs to Canada and Mexico.

Since taking the presidency he has enacted a number of new tariffs against Canada, including on newsprint and lumber.

As well, he has overseen the debacle related to Canadian manufacturer Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft which were hit with massive tariffs, a move widely seen as an attempt to prop-up local aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

The fact that Canada has issued this trade complaint likely indicates their displeasure with the US on how it is handling negotiations regarding the future of NAFTA. Canadian officials have been reported to be increasingly pessimistic about the talks, and may now be attempting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach.

Nonetheless, keeping NAFTA alive is more critical for Canada than for its southern neighbour, due to the fact that the agreement accounts for approximately 2.5 million jobs and a massive 75% of country’s total exports. As such, any cancellation of the deal could cause massive economic and political consequences for the country.