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Federal and provincial officials accused the United States of reneging on the 11-year-old North American free-trade agreement, with Ottawa renewing threats to slap billions of dollars of sanctions on American goods if Washington doesn't recant.
One senior Canadian government official called the U.S. dismissal of the NAFTA ruling a "slap in the face."
Another top-ranked federal official said Ottawa is prepared to retaliate if the United States repudiates NAFTA. "Those rules cannot be flouted and they cannot be ignored," the official said. "If [the United States] ..... can't see fit to recognize the rule of law, to honour the agreement that it, itself, established, and to work toward a deal that is fair to all, they should not expect this federal government to take that sitting down."
Under trade rules, if Washington can't prove Canadian softwood lumber poses at least a threat of injury to U.S. producers, it is obliged to scrap the duties on imports of Canadian lumber.
Wednesday's ruling should have forced an immediate end to the dispute.
But the United States says that the NAFTA ruling is inconsequential and that it has no intention of scrapping duties on Canadian softwood that exceed 20 per cent for some companies today, or refunding the $5-billion in levies collected since 2002.
Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew and Mrs. Rice will discuss" a wide range of bilateral, hemispheric and global issues in which Canada and the U.S. share common interests.
A recent study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute demonstrates that over 1 million manufacturing jobs in the United States and Canada have been lost as a result of NAFTA. According to the EPI report, the results for Mexico’s workforce have been equally devastating: manufacturing workers are now earning 21 percent less, salaried workers earn 25 percent less and the purchasing power of the Mexican minimum wage is now worth only half of its 1994 value.
How bad does job destruction have to get in order for elected officials to notice?