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U.S. trade court orders wheat tariffs refunded

Two and a half years’ worth of tariffs collected on Canadian spring wheat exports to the U.S. must be returned by order of a U.S. trade court.

The Canadian Wheat Board announced Thursday that the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) has ruled in Canada’s favour on duties paid from tariffs that were applied to U.S. imports of Canadian spring wheat between August 2003 and February 2006.

The case stems from an anti-dumping and countervailing duty case launched in 2002 by the North Dakota Wheat Commission, which resulted in tariffs that

“virtually halted” Canadian spring wheat imports into the U.S., the CWB said.

The board then appealed to a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tribunal, where the tariffs were deemed to have been unfairly imposed, and imports resumed.

Repaying the duties was demanded by both logic and law, the CIT said in its Oct. 20 ruling, and “because the subject imports caused no injury during any time relevant to this inquiry, (the) CWB should owe no duties,” the CWB quoted the CIT as saying.

“The decision ties up the last remaining loose ends of the most extensive trade battle ever to involve Canadian grain,” the CWB said in its release Thursday.

More importantly, “this ruling sets a valuable precedent for anyone who trades into the U.S., including western Canadian wheat farmers,” said CWB chairman Larry Hill.

“There are now clearer rules about what happens at the end of the process when a trade dispute is settled,” said Hill, who farms at Swift Current, Sask., adding that the ruling “gives more meaning to (Canada’s) rights under NAFTA.”

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