Thursday, March 31, 2005
OTTAWA (CP) - Canada is slapping millions of dollars worth of sanctions on U.S. imports in retaliation for a lingering trade irritant.
The announcement of a 15 per cent surtax on cigarettes, oysters and live swine from the United States came Thursday, just as the European Union took similar measures.
Canada is joining countries from around the world protesting a U.S. trade measure known as the Byrd amendment, which the World Trade Organization has deemed illegal.
The Byrd amendment allows American companies to keep the proceeds that Washington collects in anti-dumping disputes - something Canada and other countries complain unfairly enriches their U.S. rival firms.
"For the last four years, Canada and a number of other countries have repeatedly urged the United States to repeal the Byrd amendment," Trade Minister Jim Peterson said in a statement Thursday.
"Retaliation is not our preferred option, but it is a necessary action. International trade rules must be respected."
The highly unusual Canadian sanctions, which also cover certain types of fish, are to take effect May 1.
The EU says it will slap duties of up to 15 per cent, also on May 1, on such U.S. imports as paper, textiles, machinery and farm produce.
The 25-member EU said it took that action "in light of the continuing failure of the United States to bring its legislation in conformity with its international obligations."
Both Canada and the EU have long asked Washington to repeal the three-year-old Byrd amendment.
Last November, the WTO gave Canada and the other co-complainants the authority to retaliate.
The other countries involved include Mexico, Japan, India and Brazil.
"As large trading nations, let us not forget that the world is watching," said Peterson.
"We must send a clear message by way of our actions."
A small step, worth about 15 million - but a start. Unfortunately, no one really wins in a Trade War, but SOMETHING has to be done to lever the Americans off their asses.
(ps - there goes the Marlboro's, Rev.... )