NAFTA violations cited

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 28, 2005
by WLJ
Under an obscure provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian
cattle producers are asking the U.S. government to pay more than $300 million to cover losses they incurred when the border was closed to Canadian beef after BSE was confirmed
in Alberta during May 2003.
At the beginning of February, approximately 500 Canadian producers, mostly of them from Alberta, had filed 121 claims under NAFTA seeking at least $325 million in compensation from the U.S. for the May 2003 decision to halt imports of Canadian beef and cattle.
While the pending reopening of the border would limit future claims, it would do nothing to diminish the losses Canadian producers say they've suffered so far.
"The damages we're seeking are for what the border closing has already done to us," said Todd Weiler, an attorney representing the Canadian Cattlemen for Fair Trade (CCFT), the group that initiated the original suit against USDA.
Weiler said he expects to formally initiate arbitration next month, which starts the process of
setting up a three-member panel of trade lawyers to hear and decide the case.
CCFT's claims are based on a clause that says companies from other NAFTA countries are entitled to the most favorable treatment that U.S. companies would receive in similar circumstances. The provision is designed to prevent countries from arbitrarily tossing impediments in front of foreign competitors, and to encourage businesses to invest and compete across borders. — WLJ