US to use dispute settlement mechanism under USMCA for Canadian diary

The United States has requested to use the dispute settlement panel on Canadian dairy quotas under the USMCA trade deal, escalating a simmering trade tension.
calendar icon 26 May 2021
clock icon 2 minute read

Reuters reports that the Biden administration is intensifying an ongoing trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas, requesting that the first dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement be formed to review the matter.

The US Trade Representative's office said its complaint alleges that Canada was improperly allocating USMCA tariff-rate import quotas on 14 dairy products, diverting a portion of them to Canadian processors and unfairly limiting export opportunities for US dairy farmers and processors.

USTR first requested consultations with Canada on the matter in December, when former President Donald Trump's administration was still in office. USTR officials said that Canada had been "responsive" in discussing the US concerns but that the dispute was not resolved.

The USMCA, which took effect in July 2020, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, granted some additional limited access for US dairy farmers and processors to Canada's largely closed domestic dairy market, via tariff-rate quotas on 14 products from milk powder to ice cream and cheese.

USTR claims that Canada is illegally reserving a portion of those quotas for Canadian processors.
"Canada is disappointed that the United States has requested a dispute settlement panel," Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng said in a statement," adding the country is confident its policies "are in full compliance" with its tariff-rate quota obligations.

A dispute panel will take about 30 days to form under the USMCA's dispute settlement system, and is due to file an initial report within about 120 days, with a final report 30 days after that - about late November.

USTR officials said that a ruling in the United States' favor would lead to further consultations with Canada to resolve the matter but could ultimately lead to punitive tariffs imposed on imports from Canada.

"A top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration is fully enforcing the USMCA and ensuring that it benefits American workers," US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

"Launching the first panel request under the agreement will ensure our dairy industry and its workers can seize new opportunities under the USMCA to market and sell U.S. products to Canadian consumers."

Read more about this story here.

Source: Reuters

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