Canada files WTO complaint against US over trade rules

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…As Concordia Maritime Inks More Charter Contracts***

Canada has filed an expansive complaint with the World Trade Organization accusing the US of breaking international trade rules.

The complaint challenges the ways that the US investigates products for subsidies and below-cost sales.

The US called the claims “unfounded”.

The action comes amid disputes between the two countries over areas such as dairy, aircraft sales and lumber as well as efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada’s 32-page complaint cites US investigations of products from countries around the world, with decisions that date back to 1996.

Among other charges, Canada says the US improperly calculates rates and restricts parties from presenting evidence to defend themselves, with a cut-off for supplying information that comes too early in the process.

It also accuses the US International Trade Commission of being biased since disputes over which the body’s six commissioners are evenly divided automatically result in a finding for the US.

Eric Miller, president of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, which consults on North American trade issues, said the scope of the filing is “unprecedented”.

“It is global, it is over many years, it is systematic and so this is something that certainly, in the realm of WTO cases, is outside the norm in terms of its reach and its ambition,” he said.

Canada’s complaint targets a process that the US has deployed frequently under President Donald Trump, who has embraced a protectionist stance on trade.

The US Commerce Department launched more than 80 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations last year – a 46% increase from 2016.

The investigations, which are typically triggered by complaints from private companies, can lead to steep tariffs.

In the meantime, Swedish tanker owner Concordia Maritime has agreed more charter deals for Medium Range ECO vessels as it prepares for an expected market upturn.

The company said that, as a part of fleet positioning ahead of the progressively stronger market that is expected, Concordia Maritime has chartered in two more MR (ECO) vessels, while also extending the contracts for two of the currently chartered MR (ECO) vessels by a further year.

Furthermore, the shipowner signed a contract to charter out the P-MAX tanker Stena Performance, which will be used primarily for niche traffic in the Middle East. Concordia Maritime said that the contractual partner is a large global oil company, without revealing any further details.

As with previous charters, these latest contracts are joint charters with Stena Bulk, and Concordia Maritime’s share amounts to 50 percent. The vessels will be operated by the MR pool within Stena Bulk Product & Chemicals, formerly Stena Weco.

The contract for Stena Performance is for six months, with an option for a further six months, and runs from January 2018.

“We are acting based on our firm belief in a progressively stronger market from summer 2018 onwards. By chartering in a total of six vessels (50% each), we have now increased earning capacity significantly in a short period,” Kim Ullman, CEO of Concordia Maritime, said.

BBC with additional report from World Maritime News