Law to Suspend Canada’s WTO Obligations concerning Safeguards Receives Royal Assent
On 21st June 2019, Bill C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, received Royal Assent and became law in Canada. It sped through the legislative process in the House of Commons and the Senate in just sixteen days, having been introduced for First Reading in the House of Commons on 5th June 2019 (following a successful Ways and Means Motion to introduce the Bill on 4th June).
This legislation temporarily repeals the provisions in Canadian law that implement Canada’s obligation under Article 7.5 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, which requires government authorities to observe a 2-year “cooling off” period after imposing safeguard measures on imported products before they can impose another round of safeguard measures on the same products.
The Government of Canada’s purpose in suspending this WTO obligation is to allow it to initiate one or more successive rounds of safeguard measures within the next two years against imports of the same steel products that were the subject of the 2018-2019 safeguard measures — i.e., heavy steel plate, concrete reinforcing bar (rebar), energy tubular products, hot-rolled sheet, pre-painted steel, stainless steel wire, and wire rod — even though the Canadian International Trade Tribunal determined that safeguard measures were not warranted for these products.
Although this measure is inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations, it is designed to automatically reverse itself after two years, re-instating the repealed provisions exactly as they were before and thereby bringing Canadian law back into compliance.
Tereposky & DeRose regularly provides advice on Canadian trade matters, including safeguard actions. Should you have any questions regarding this matter, we are at your disposal.