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Canada, China suspend canola complaint

Canada and China have agreed to suspend proceedings against Chinese measures affecting the importation of Canadian canola seed, according to a World Trade Organization complaint on Sept. 1.

The panel suspended its work as of Aug. 30, said the complaint.

Work can be suspended at any time at the request of the complaining party for a period of up to 12 months. If work is suspended for longer, the authority for establishing the panel lapses.

Bill Kerr, an agricultural economist at the University of Saskatchewan, said the Canadian government may be pausing the WTO panel to pursue a bilateral solution with China.

That path, face to face discussions with China, might be more fruitful than a WTO case.

“The whole ((WTO) dispute system doesn’t really work now,” he said.

“Let’s say Canada wins this panel (about canola)… if the thing was working normally, then the Chinese could appeal.”

But the Americans have been blocking the appointment of new appellate judges at the WTO, so there’s no one available to rule on such appeals.

“But because they (China) can’t appeal, they just ignore the ruling…. There’s no process.”

For years, the United States has been frustrated with the WTO and accused the appellate body of making decisions that infringe upon U.S. domestic laws.

In protest, the U.S. has blocked appointments to the WTO appeals body. As judges stepped away, no replacements were named, thus disabling the appellate panel.

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