Canada Sick of getting the Byrd from the United States
The government of Canada, along with seven other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have filed a request (http://webapps.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/minpub/Publication.asp?FileSpec=/Min_Pub_Docs/106764.htm&Language=E) to be granted the authority to retaliate to the United States’ continued use of the Byrd Amendment.
For those that are unaware, the Byrd Amendment was signed into law in October, 2000 and basically gives U.S. companies access to any duties collected by the U.S. government under anti-dumping restrictions. What this means is that when the United States imposes duties for perceived dumping (as with softwood lumber and steel), then while the duties are supposed to be the entire balancing factor, those companies that said they were being hurt by the dumping can actually obtain those funds directly.
This not only provides a double-advantage to companies being hurt by products that actually are being illegally dumped in the United States, but also serves as an incentive for floundering companies to try to get the American Government to impose duties or other penalties on their competitors products.
The WTO agreed with Canada and the other members that this in fact violates the agreements the United States signed, upheld that decision in an appellate board, and gave the United States eleven months to fix the problem. In that time, the United States has done approximately squat to address the issue, so now Canada, the European Union, Japan, India, Mexico Chile, Brazil, and South Korea are looking for the WTO to allow them to impose their own duties on American products.
The total amount that the Byrd Amendment has handed out in the last three years is estimated at being about $841 million dollars, with just over $12 million of that being paid by Canadian companies into the pockets of American ones.
The sad part is that even if the United States takes moves to stop this, the damage is already done, and it is highly unlikely that the U.S. government will be billing those companies it paid the money to in the first place. More likely this will just be another instance of American tax-payers taking the hit to prop up a few non-competitive American companies.
Finance Minister Consults Canadians – But You’re Not Invited
The new Minister of Finance, Ralph Goodale, has begun a series of pre-budget consultations. In the press release (http://www.fin.gc.ca/news04/04-003e.html), he claims “I trust the wisdom of Canadians to provide astute guidance.”
However, it seems the Minister only trusts the wisdom of a few particular Canadians, as a more detailed look at the consultation itinerary (http://www.fin.gc.ca/notices/2004-01-12e.html) shows that most of the meetings he’s holding are closed door meetings – no press, although he says he will give a brief question period for the press once the meetings are complete.
Perhaps he does not feel that my opinion or yours is particularly relevant to the running of the country. He may even be correct in that. But if he truly trusts the wisdom of Canadians, as he says, it would be nice to see some evidence of that by holding meetings that are open to any member of the public.
Beyond that, if he really wanted to trust the opinions of Canadians, why not also have an invitation for Canadians to provide their views by e-mail, letter, or maybe even telephone? Is an answering machine that difficult of a device to come by in Ottawa?
I feel this bodes ill when we have a representative who on one hand tells us that he trusts us to make decisions, but then arranges things so that we have little opportunity to make our decisions known to him.
Or maybe I’m just cynical.
You Are Who You Are
Just a quick note, the Provincial Government of New Brunswick has released a tip sheet on how to help prevent becoming a victim of identity theft. This is a growing problem and especially for distance education students, can become a serious issue. We do so much of our work by computer and e-mail, the favourite means by which identity theft takes place, that we really need to be aware of this stuff.
So take a look at the tip-sheet (http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/promos/justice/theft-e.htm) and remember that if you receive any e-mails from companies that you have financial dealings with, be sure to type in the web-address by hand to investigate if the email is true.
I’ve personally received many emails warning me about problems with the service of Pay-Pal or U.S. Bank, and giving me a link to click on to re-enter my personal information. Now since I don’t have an account with either of those, I know the e-mail is phony, but it makes me worry about people who do.
The link even looks legit, in that it seems to say it is going to the right site. However, links can be redirected, especially those you receive in your e-mail, so it’s always best to simply go to your browser bar and type in the web-link address by hand. That way you’re sure you’re going to where it tells you.
Safe surfing, folks.
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.