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North America Canada claims Washington is violating international trade law

A TRADE row has erupted between Canada and the US amid talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

A Canadian complaint to the World Trade Organisation, submitted last month but not released until yesterday, claimed Washington was violating international law by imposing import duties on Canadian goods.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the complaint was a “broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system.”

He said, if the tariffs were lifted, “the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the US.”

The 122 cases cited by Canada include recent US taxes of up to 9 per cent on Canadian paper and the whopping 300 per cent tariff proposed for aviation from Bombardier’s new C-Series airliner.

The US Treasury Department is set to make its final decision on the Bombardier sanctions, based on accusations by US rival Boeing the firm benefits from state aid, next month.

Almost 400 jobs have been lost at Bombardier’s Shorts subsidiary in Belfast, where the C-Series advanced wing is made, and union Unite has warned that 14,000 more could follow there and along the supply chain.

The US Public Citizen lobby group’s Global Trade Watch tweeted: “The status quo of Nafta helping corporations outsource more jobs to Mexico every week to pay workers less and attack health and environmental safeguards is not acceptable.”

US President Donald Trump made reforming Nafta to stop the flight of jobs abroad a central election campaign pledge.

Talks are still ongoing, but Royal Bank of Canada chief executive Dave McKay told Reuters that there’s a good chance Mr Trump will pull out of the deal.

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