Efforts led by the North Dakota Wheat Commission to impose fairness on Canadian wheat sales to the U.S. were dealt a blow last week when the U.S. International Trade Commission reversed itself and, in response to a NAFTA dispute panel order, ruled that the U.S. wheat industry is not injured according to their new determination of how harm is assessed under the dumping and countervailing duty statutes.
This reversal means that unless it's challenged at the NAFTA level the U.S. Commerce Department will eventually instruct U.S. Customs to refund all cash deposits of duties collected on imported Canadian spring wheat. Any deposits liquidated prior to the negative remand determination will not be refunded.
The North Dakota Wheat Commission filed countervailing duty and anti-dumping suits against the Canadian Wheat Board in 2002 to force discipline on the government monopoly, and the CWB's lawyers have fought hard against the resulting U.S. imposition of a 14.15% duty applied to Canadian hard red spring wheat. As recently as August, the U.S. Commerce Department found once again that the Government of Canada provides export subsidies that fuel Canadian Wheat Board sales.
The NDWC denounced this latest determination and on Wednesday decided to challenge the ruling in an appeal.
"The facts of the case haven't changed -- only the members of the ITC have changed -- since it found in 2003 that tariffs were warranted to stop economic harm inflicted on U.S. farmers by unfair imports," says NDWC Chairman Harlan Klein.
U.S. Wheat Associates also voiced disappointment and disagreement with the ruling. "This case isn't over, but ITC's reversal makes the WTO negotiations that much more important," says USW president Alan Tracy, referring to the U.S. and EU demands for disciplines on export monopolies CWB and AWB. "We expect our government to deal with the CWB one way or another."