Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the WTO challenge is about the long-simmering trade dispute with the USA over softwood lumber and is entirely separate from the NAFTA talks. Ottawa's 32-page complaint packs a wallop, accusing the USA of violating WTO rules in anti-dumping and countervailing duty probes focused not.
For instance, in the softwood lumber dispute, Canada has filed for the creation of an independent binational panel of experts under chapter 19 to decide on both the validity of the U.S. claim that lumber is subsidized in Canada, and on the level of duties imposed by the U.S. Canada argues that NAFTA's chapter 19 is necessary given that the United States system tends to be politicized and biased against foreign companies.
However, he explained that US President Donald Trump's administration "dislikes" the WTO's dispute-settlement body and believes that countries rely on it "inappropriately to achieve results they can't achieve through negotiations". "Unfortunately, it is American consumers who pay the price of unfair duties", Garneau said in a statement.
The Canadian government feels this case could add weight to an existing complaint to the WTO over the duties Washington has levied on Canadian softwood.
Canada has protested the tariffs in other filings with the WTO and under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Ottawa's ramped-up efforts come amid an increasingly fragile trade relationship between the two countries.
Though Canada certainly has plenty of domestic interest in pushing against the trade policies of its southern neighbor, its filing is about more than its own trade disputes. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer hinted at such a prospect when he mentioned in a statement that "Canada's claims are unfounded and could only lower U.S. confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade".
The Trump administration has begun vigorously enforcing U.S. trade laws by backing USA companies and industries that complain of harm from unfair trade by imposing duties on imports.
"For example, if the USA removed the orders listed in Canada's complaint, the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the United States, including almost US$9 billion in exports of steel and aluminum products and more than $2.5 billion in exports of wood and paper products", he said.
Trade relations between the countries have experienced some stumbling points as the sides are deadlocked in unsuccessful negotiations over NAFTA, the trade pact signed by the US, Canada, and Mexico in 1994 and based on the fundamental principle of tariff-elimination across North America.
He pointed out that the vast majority of cases Canada is complaining about don't even involve Canadian companies.
"The U.S.is trying to bully us, and we're not going to stand for it", said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.