Clock Ticks on Lumber Deal; U.S. Presses WTO on Airbus, Solar

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By Rossella Brevetti, Brian Flood and Bryce Baschuk

Oct. 7 — A much anticipated deadline—Oct. 12—will come and go next week. After that date, U.S. lumber producers can file dumping and anti-subsidy cases targeting softwood lumber from Canada.

U.S. and Canadian negotiators have been in talks for months on trying to have a new lumber pact in place by that date. However, a high-level Oct. 5 meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland didn't break the impasse. If cases are filed by the U.S. Lumber Coalition, it would take months before possible preliminary duties are levied.

It also could be a big week for the U.S. aerospace and solar energy industries, with the U.S. asking the World Trade Organization to formally adopt two recent dispute cases against the European Union and India.

At an Oct. 14 special meeting of the WTO dispute settlement body, U.S. trade officials will request adoption of a Sept. 22 compliance ruling that found EU member states failed to adequately cut $22 billion worth of illegal subsidies for Airbus Group SE (185 ITD, 9/23/16).

The U.S. also will ask the WTO to adopt a Sept. 16 appellate decision that confirmed India's national solar program violated WTO rules and unfairly discriminated against imported solar cells and modules (181 ITD, 9/19/16).

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently touted the cases as examples of the Obama administration's commitment to “enforcing the rights of the United States under our trade agreements.” The WTO dispute victories further bolster USTR's argument that trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are needed to implement and enforce high standards with its Pacific trading partners.

Rebar Investigations, Rules of Origin

The Commerce Department Oct. 12 will announce whether it will launch antidumping and anti-subsidy investigations on imports of steel concrete reinforcing bar from the Republic of Turkey and antidumping duty investigations of imports from Japan and Taiwan. The Rebar Trade Action Coalition and its individual members—Bayou Steel Group, Byer Steel Group, Inc., Commercial Metals Co., Gerdau Ameristeel U.S. Inc., Nucor Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc.—filed the petitions.

Separately, members of the public have until Oct. 13 to comment on proposed changes to the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement’s rules of origin. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the government of Morocco have reached an agreement in principle to relax certain rules on textile imports.

Specifically, imports still would be eligible for preferential tariff treatment even if they are made from certain fabrics from third countries. Officials believe that the U.S. and Morocco do not make those fabrics—including certain blends of rayon and polyester—in commercial quantities.

Before the rules are changed, however, the International Trade Commission is soliciting public feedback and preparing a report on how these changes would affect U.S. industry and trade.

TTIP Work Continues

Last week, U.S. and EU negotiators met in New York to attempt to bring the two sides closer together. Going forward, the U.S. and EU said they would work to make as much progress as possible on the wide-ranging Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership before President Barack Obama leaves office. U.S. chief TTIP negotiator Dan Mullaney told reporters during an Oct. 7 conference call that intercessional work is expected to continue the week of Oct. 10 on the investment chapter.

The U.S. favors the current investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, but the EU side has proposed replacing it with an investment court system. “In the remaining months of the Obama administration, we want to make as much progress as possible,” Mullaney told reporters. The EU’s chief negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, said additional progress is possible on the consolidation of text proposals, which refers to a process of joining the proposals of both sides with brackets indicating areas of disagreement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rossella Brevetti and Brian Flood in Washington at and; Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at

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