Canada launches global trade complaint against US

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By filing a WTO complaint over USA use of punitive duties, and charging that the U.S.is in violation of worldwide trade rules, not just in its dealings with us but other countries such as China, "Canada is taking a run against the entire USA trade regime", says John Boscariol, a trade lawyer with McCarthy T├ętrault.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said this challenge is tied to Canada's latest fight with the United States over softwood lumber.

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.

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 USA market.

The complaint marks Canada's most exhaustive attempt yet to counter recent import duties imposed by the USA, particularly on Canadian softwood lumber products.

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"Canada's claims are unfounded and could only lower US confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade", Lighthizer said in statement.

"These duties are unwarranted and without merit and we 100 per cent support the federal government's WTO filing position".

Critics have accused the Trump administration of wanting to hobble the WTO.

The Canadian move is "bold for sure and slightly risky", said Christopher Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

On Wednesday the country requested that the World Trade Organization step in to review certain US trade actions and whether they're in accordance with its obligations as a member of the WTO. 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.

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Canada's $65-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product and is one of Canada's largest employers, operating in over 600 communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs, and 1 million indirect jobs across the country.

"If Canada loses Chapter 19, it would have to go to the WTO", said Warner.

They fear that it could ultimately prompt United States President Donald Trump to invoke NAFTA's article 2205, notifying partners of intent to withdraw from the pact after a period of six months.

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.

With its WTO filing, Canada is forcing the United States to put its logic to the test.

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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.

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