October 31, 2008


CWB says US government must return duties on Canada wheat



The US Department of Commerce must return any duties from tariffs that were unfairly applied between August 2003 and February 2006 to imports of Canadian spring wheat, according to a release from the Canadian Wheat Board on Thursday (October 30).


The move follows a decision by the US Court of International Trade, or CIT, on October 20.


"This ruling sets a valuable precedent for anyone who trades into the United States, including western Canadian wheat farmers," said CWB chairman Larry Hill. "There are now clearer rules about what happens at the end of the process when a trade dispute is settled and provides more meaning to Canada's rights under NAFTA."


The decision ties up the last remaining loose ends of the most extensive trade battle ever to involve Canadian grain. An anti-dumping and countervailing duty case launched in 2002 by the North Dakota Wheat Commission resulted in tariffs that virtually halted Canadian spring wheat imports into the US for almost three years.


After the CWB appealed to a North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, tribunal, the tariffs were deemed to have been unfairly imposed and imports resumed, the CWB said.


The CIT concluded that repaying the duties was demanded by both logic and law. "Because the subject imports (Canadian spring wheat) caused no injury during any time relevant to this inquiry, CWB should owe no duties," the court said.


Maureen Fitzhenry, CWB media relations manager, would not disclose the amount owed by the US Commerce Department, citing the information as commercially confidential.


The US is a valuable market for Canadian grain. Last year, about C$275 million worth of spring wheat was sold into the US, about 7 percent of total spring wheat exports, the CWB said.

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