The Canada attack head-on the United States to the WTO

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini Agence France-Presse
The complaint of Canada before the WTO is tantamount to a frontal attack against the largest economic power in the world, for over a year, is governed by an administration that is openly protectionist.

Canada launches into an attack on the business practices of u.s. before the world trade Organization.


Instead of complaining of the treatment by the United States to canadian imports in a particular case, Ottawa has seized the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO to denounce a set of practices that are contrary to international rules, and which have also been the victims of dozens of other countries.


Presented to the organization, based in Geneva on the same day that Washington confirmed the imposition of trade sanctions by 300% against the CSeries aircraft to Bombardier, the complaint of Canada, released on Wednesday, lists six major types of violation of the rules of the WTO which lend themselves systematically to the United States in their commercial disputes. The arguments presented in the first eight pages that link to 24 pages of appendices, which are cited not only the examples of conflicts in canada-u.s. softwood lumber, the CSeries of Bombardier or newspaper, but also of dozens of other different cases between Washington and more than thirty countries, ranging from China to Mexico, via Japan, Brazil, Italy, India, Germany, Indonesia, France or the United Kingdom.


Frontal attack against Trump


Canada lags in particular the United States to impose more rapidly than permit their countervailing and anti-dumping as well as unduly delay their repayment when they are determined to be excessive or even illegal. It reflects also the mechanisms of establishment of these trade sanctions, which do not leave enough time for the industries accused to defend their cause, consistently overestimate the financial support they would receive from their public authorities and to have a bias in favor of plaintiffs americans.


In the world of international trade law, the complaint of Canada before the WTO is tantamount to a frontal attack against the largest economic power in the world, for over a year, is governed by an administration that is openly protectionist, which boasts of having multiplied the battlefields of business, ” says Geneviève Dufour, professor of international economic law at the University of Sherbrooke. “It was time ! We had come to wonder if Canada would finally begin to defend seriously against the attitude of the more aggressive of the United States in its respect. “


The wait was worth it. Rarely do we see in the WTO a country submit a complaint as long and as supported. Most of the facts which are alleged against the United States are not new. “It is their frequency and intensity are on the rise since the election of president [Donald] Trump. “


The us Trade representative Robert Lighthizer, has blasted the canadian approach. “The complaints of Canada are unfounded, and can only reduce confidence in the fact that Canada is engaged in trade, mutually beneficial “, he commented. “And even when Canada would get satisfaction, this would not be its main advantage,” he added, saying that this could prompt his country to replace its imports by chinese products.


The United States against the world ?


Canada’s approach is for the moment only in its infancy, that is to say, at the stage of consultations to enable the parties to discuss the issue and arrive at a negotiated solution. After 60 days, the complainant may request the establishment of an arbitral panel, which shall have a maximum of six months to decide. We can then challenge this decision before an appeal body, which has a maximum of 60 days.


“What is clever on the part of Canada, is to have presented his case in a way that other countries may follow suit,” observes Richard Ouellet, professor of international economic law at the Université Laval. This also happens at the time when the operation of the dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO is compromised due to the refusal of the United States to fill vacancies in its appellate body, he notes, ” but just imagine that China, for example, to move to Canada in its battle against the United States. This would be fun “.


In case of victory, Canada, and other countries, complainants would have the right to impose their tour to United States trade sanctions deemed to be equivalent to the damages. This is anyway the only card that can really play Canada in the circumstances, advance Richard Ouellet. “You know what they say, there are those, such as the United States, which have the argument of force, and those, such as Canada, which have only the force of the argument. Canada is in need of a globalization that is based on the rule of law. “

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