Taiwan initiates WTO suit against Canada over dumping

TAIPEI - The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will soon request the WTO to adjudicate on anti-dumping measures imposed by Canada on imports of carbon steel welded pipe from Taiwan.

Taiwan first notified the WTO in June 2014 of a request for consultations over the issue. Taipei believes the measures imposed by Canada violate the GATT 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement.

The consultation between Taiwan and Canada failed to reach consensus. Taipei therefore decided to move forward with litigation and requested the WTO set up a panel to adjudicate the case.

Jack Hsiao, a negotiator from the MOEA's Office of Trade Negotiations, said the anti-dumping controversy has a direct impact of US$14 million (S$18.71 million) worth of trade. If Taiwan wins the dispute, it may have even broader ramifications, Hsian said.

For instance, Canada has imposed anti-dumping measures against Taiwan's screw and nut business for the past decade. In addition, an oil pipe investigation launched by the Canadian government has put US$5 million on the line. These cases add up to tens of millions of US dollars in worth, Hsian said.

The litigation against Canada marks the first time Taipei has single-handedly initiated a lawsuit at the WTO.

Taiwan filed a similar lawsuit against India before. However, the two countries reached agreement during the consultation stage. India backed down and compromised as it knew it was in the wrong, Hsian said.

Process May Take One and a Half to Two Years

After Taiwan requests a panel be set up to adjudicate the case, two routine discussions will have to be held. As such, a trial will be opened between March and April.

In addition, there is a jury selection that will take at least half a year. As such, the verdict is not expected to be out until the end of the year or early next year.

Hsian predicts the first trial to last between nine months and one year. An ensuing appeal may take place afterwards. Therefore, the whole process may take another one and a half year to two years.

The very fact that the government is willing to invest the time and effort into the dispute testifies its determination to uphold local industry's interest, Hsian said.

Taiwan's export products have become less competitive as Taipei's free trade negotiation with other nations met multiple setbacks in recent years.

Furthermore, after the Great Recession, countries around the world have implemented protectionism policies such as tariffs and anti-dumping measures to protect domestic businesses.