Canada files almost 200 trade complaints against US

A mule truck moves a container in the Port of Miami in Miami   Thomson Reuters

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

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer commented on the move, saying that Canada's protest against recent US trade actions in a complaint to the WTO is "a broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system".

According to a WTO filing dated December 20 and published on January 10, Canada has launched a trade dispute against the USA challenging its repeated use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade remedies.

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In 2016, the US imported almost $1.3 billion worth of the Canadian paper.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the legal action was in response to the "unfair and unwarranted" USA duties against Canada's softwood lumber producers and part of a "broader litigation" to defend forestry jobs.

Canada has protested the tariffs in other filings with the WTO and under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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.

"Even if Canada succeeded on these groundless claims, other countries would primarily benefit, not Canada".

In other words, Canada is trying to show that the United States cannot have it both ways; they can't eliminate chapter 19 and disregard the WTO's authority to judge the USA trade remedy system and its decisions.

"Canada is acting against its own workers' and businesses' interests", Lighthizer added. The Canadian government is preparing for the possibility that Trump will withdraw from NAFTA, senior officials say, though they aren't entirely convinced that he will.

The U.S. used the same argument it did in imposing stiff duties against softwood lumber: that the Canadian companies received unfair subsidies from the Canadian government.

Canada is the largest exporter of newsprint in the world.

Steep import duties leveled by the USA have become a regular fixture of the industry, according to Joel Neuheimer, a vice-president at the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Tuesday's decision prompted Canada's foreign ministry put out a statement calling the move disappointing and "unjustified" (and noting, correctly, that "any duties will have a direct and negative impact on ‎U.S. newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, ‎and result in job losses in the American printing sector‎"). The filing has potentially strengthened Canada's hand in the NAFTA renegotiations, all the while putting pressure on the U.S.in the softwood lumber dispute, among others.

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