WTO creates two dispute settlement panels to review US softwood lumber duties
One will cover the Canadian dispute, the other US use of differential pricing in its anti-dumping determinations.
MONTREAL — The World Trade Organization says its dispute settlement body has agreed to establish two panels to examine Canada’s complaint about duties imposed by the US on softwood lumber imports.
The Canadian government requested March 27 that a panel be set up to examine the dispute after consultations with the US in January failed to resolve the matter. It also requested a second panel to review the US use of differential pricing methodology in its anti-dumping determinations.
The US objected to the Canadian requests, which argue that the anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed on softwood lumber imports were inconsistent with US obligations under the agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures and the general agreement on tariffs and trade.
Ottawa says the duties represent a “considerable hardship” on softwood lumber producers and communities across Canada.
The United States has argued that the duties were fully consistent with its obligations under the WTO agreements.
It has also raised concerns that Canada’s request for a panel included an item that wasn’t identified in its request that wasn’t part of the consultations.
The US said the request included claims against the measures that don’t exist and therefore couldn’t be challenged. It also said Canada stated the matter was urgent even though the final determination in the anti-dumping investigation of softwood lumber from Canada made in November 2017.
The US it was disappointed that Canada had proceeded to request a special DSB meeting to consider its second panel request rather than addressing these concerns.
Canada has also launched a separate wide-ranging complaint to the WTO about the way the US applies punitive tariffs that has infuriated the Americans.
The Canadian government has suggested it might drop that major international trade case if it gets a softwood lumber deal.