Pursuing a World Trade Organization (WTO) case challenging the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum might be a more viable path for Canada than the tariffs being tested in court, Osler partner Riyaz Dattu tells Maclean’s. In his article, author John Geddes describes why courts might be reluctant to test Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s claim that the tariffs are illegal. The article discusses the tariffs, in which U.S. President Donald Trump is wielding Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, under which “Congress gave presidents the authority … to impose tariffs where national security is threatened.” The article also explains how Canada has already focused on international trade dispute settlement processes and how it has already filed challenges against the tariffs with the WTO. Riyaz, who has written extensively on international trade issues, explains why the WTO process might be more feasible.
“The preliminary research we’ve done,” Riyaz tells Maclean’s, “suggests the WTO would likely question the factual basis of the claim that there’s a threat of injury to national security.”
According to the article, a victory with the WTO for Canada wouldn’t have the same impact as winning in a U.S. court, as the WTO does not have the authority to reverse the tariffs. However, the WTO could authorize retaliatory tariffs.
“Pursuing a WTO case will emphasize that even though we took the counter-measures on a premature basis, under the WTO rules they were justified,” Riyaz tells Maclean’s.