Government triggers NAFTA Chapter 19 over punitive U.S. import duties

OTTAWA — The federal government has filed requests for panel reviews under NAFTA Chapter 19 to appeal final U.S. decisions to impose duties on imports of Bombardier C Series aircraft and softwood lumber from Canada.

The notices follow the U.S. Department of Commerce’s plans to impose duty rates of nearly 300 per cent on future imports of Bombardier’s C Series aircraft, and the U.S. International Trade Commission’s determination that softwood lumber imported from Canada is subsidized and hurts the U.S. industry.

NAFTA Chapter 19’s dispute resolution mechanism means Canada can get a panel made up of American and Canadian trade experts to decide if the duties follow U.S. trade law, rather than going through the U.S. court system.

Ottawa says the Chapter 19 notices are necessary procedural steps in the appeal process against the U.S. decisions.

Chapter 19 was Canada’s major demand in the original NAFTA and remains a priority as renegotiation talks move to Montreal next week.

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