December 21, 2016 / 3:26 PM / 8 months ago

WTO rules largely in favor of Taiwan in steel row with Canada

A World Trade Organization (WTO) logo is pictured on their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, June 3, 2016.Denis Balibouse

GENEVA/OTTAWA (Reuters) - A dispute panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) largely ruled in favor of Taiwan on Wednesday on its complaint over anti-dumping duties imposed by Canada on some of its steel goods.

The ruling, related to certain carbon steel welded pipes and certain provisions of Canada's underlying legislation, found that Canada had contravened the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement but that Taiwan had failed to establish some points.

Canada slapped duties on some imports of carbon steel welded pipes from Taiwan in 2012 and Taiwan brought the complaint to the WTO in Jan 2015. The annual value of Taiwan's exports of carbon steel welded pipes to Canada dropped from around $19 million before the anti-dumping duties were imposed to around $5 million, Taiwan officials said at the time of the filing.

A spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada will review the decision before deciding whether to appeal. Both sides have 60 days to decide whether to appeal any of the panel's findings.

"Canada takes its WTO trade obligations seriously and is also committed to maintaining a strong trade remedy system‎," spokesman Alex Lawrence said in an email.

The panel found that Canada acted inconsistently with certain obligations under the WTO and recommended that Canada bring its measures into conformity.

Taiwanese trade officials said that while they welcomed the ruling on Thursday, they also expect Canada will appeal the decision.

"In our filing, we requested the Canadian government to amend its laws," said Jack Hsiao, an official in the trade negotiation office of Taiwan's cabinet.

Hsiao added that Canadian regulations regarding dumping investigations were problematic and if their appeal were rejected Canada would need to revise its rules.

Joseph Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association, said the group is "disappointed but not surprised" by the ruling.

Galimberti said the impact of the decision on Canada's steel industry is not hugely significant but declined to quantify the impact. The group's member companies produce about 13 million tonnes of primary steel as well as over 1 million tonnes of steel pipe and tube products annually, for sales of about $4 billion.

"We would not want speculate on an amount of business on which Canadian companies could conceivably lose out or how market shares would shift as a result of the ruling," Galimberti said in an email.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Jeanny Kao in Taipei; Editing by Toby Chopra, Chizu Nomiyama and Christian Schmollinger

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