Canada Set to Challenge Border Closure

Group is seeking damages from U.S. Government under NAFTA. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Aug 13, 2004

A group called Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade announced Thursday it’s launching a Chapter 11 challenge against the U.S. Government under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Under Chapter 11, damages can be sought by someone who has made an investment in doing business in another country covered by the NAFTA agreement and who has incurred losses due to a trade action by that country. Any damages awarded if the action was successful would go to the individual businesses that have launched the challenge.

According to the Globe and Mail, cattle ranchers are seeking damages of $150 million caused by the United States live cattle border closure after Canada's May 2003 finding of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The spokesman for Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade explains that the damages may reach as high as $1 billion. The group is accusing the U.S. government of using "protectionst politics rather than science" to develop regulatory policy.

When Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman was questioned about the claim, she says the agency has not seen any formal complaints at this time. She also adds USDA is still reviewing comments for the rule to allow the border to be reopened. Industry insiders say it won't be until at least November before the rule is finalized.

To read more about the case, visit the Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade Web site.