Canada Softwood Lumber WTO Case

Even in advance of the final US International Trade Commission determination, Canada’s Foreign Trade Ministry formally requested World Trade Organization (WTO) consultations with the United States concerning the US Department of Commerce’s recent final softwood lumber anti-dumping and countervailing duty determinations on imports of certain products from Canada, said November 27.

Canada that Tuesday formally opened a case against the United States at the World Trade Organization over a recent Commerce Department decision to impose duties on Canadian lumber exports, the foreign ministry said, according to Reuters that Tuesday.

Canada Takes US to WTO Over Softwood Lumber

A Canadian Foreign Ministry statement Tuesday said Canada would forcefully defend the lumber industry against the “unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling” decision, according to Reuters Tuesday.

The issue here though is, as Madison’s has been told over time by several well-positioned sources, that especially once the Final Determinations come down (both Commerce and ITC) the window for a quick resolution closes. That is why the urgency since the Preliminary Determinations are released….once the ITC Final Determination comes down (expected mid-December) and especially once the Final Duties take effect (very beginning of January 2018) there is a requirement to be heard in US domestic trade court first.

There are actually three levels of trade court which must be surmounted before any country can take the US to international court in a bilateral trade issue.

This usually take several years and costs HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS just to litigate (a couple of years after the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement was signed, the list of US law firms based in Washington, DC, arguing that trade file was released. Along with the fees.

The total eclipsed the US$5 billion that had been collected during Softwood Lumber Dispute IV.

– Madison’s Lumber Reporter, Dec 6, 2017

Earlier this month Canada launched a NAFTA trade challenge against duties affecting about US$5.66 annually billion worth of US lumber imports.

The Office of the US Trade Representative is confident the Department of Commerce’s actions “fully comply” with WTO rules, said USTR spokeswoman Amelia Breinig, in a statement.

In any case, Canada’s decision to open a case with the WTO is premature, since final duties are not yet in place, pending a decision by the US International Trade Commission on whether imports of Canadian lumber have harmed US producers, said a US Trade Representative.

– USTR spokeswoman Amelia Breinig

The Canadian government said it has requested consultations with the US under the WTO, said CBC also that Tuesday.

Canada is also fighting the case through NAFTA’s dispute-resolution system, according to Canadian Press.