U.S. hits back with WTO challenge against Canada’s retaliatory tariffs

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OTTAWA — The United States says it’s firing back at the Canadian government’s recent retaliatory tariffs on American imports by launching a formal challenge with the World Trade Organization.

The federal Liberal government introduced reciprocal duties earlier this month on some U.S. imports after the Trump administration slapped Canada — and other American allies — with tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has called Washington’s metal tariffs absurd and illegal because they’ve been applied on the premise that Canada represents a national security threat to the U.S.

The U.S., however, took a fresh step Monday in an escalating trade dispute by launching separate disputes at the WTO against Canada — as well as the European Union, China, Mexico and Turkey — over each jurisdiction’s set of countermeasures on American imports.

In a statement today, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says Trump’s tariffs are legitimate and fully justified as a matter of U.S. law and international trade rules.

The Canada-U.S. trading relationship has been facing big challenges due to unprecedented, cross-border tensions that have also included stalled NAFTA negotiations and threats of new tariffs on the automotive sector by President Donald Trump.

Lighthizer argues that instead of working with the Trump administration to address a common problem, some U.S. trading partners have chosen to retaliate with tariffs aimed at punishing American workers, farmers and companies.

The Canadian Press