October 30, 2008- The Canadian Wheat Board has scored another court victory that it says sets an important precedent for anyone exporting south of the border.
The U.S. Court of International Trade has ordered the Department of Commerce to return duties it collected on Canadian hard red spring wheat between August 2003 and February 2006. The duties were found to be unfair in an earlier ruling.
"The purpose of collecting anti-dumping and countervailing duties is to level the playing field so that producers can compete fairly in the marketplace,'' Judge Richard Eaton wrote in his decision.
"That purpose would not be advanced by allowing the United States to keep (the wheat board's) deposits when it has been conclusively established that the domestic industry has suffered no material injury from the subject imports.''
American authorities originally deemed Canadian wheat to be unfairly subsidized, so tariffs totalling 14.15 per cent were slapped on shipments coming into the U.S.
The Canadian Wheat Board appealed and, after a lengthy court battle, the U.S. International Trade Commission ordered the duties be eliminated.
The most recent ruling means cash deposits collected by the U.S. government, including money gathered before the tariffs were declared unfair, must be returned to the Canadian Wheat Board.
"It's an important event for all exporters,'' wheat board chairman Larry Hill said from his home near Saskatoon.
"It is certainly important for all exporters to know that if they do get into a situation where duties are collected, they have a good chance of recovering those funds.''
The tariffs were so prohibitive most Canadian farmers stopped exporting hard red spring wheat to the U.S. until the tariffs were quashed.
The Winnipeg-based wheat board had filed the court challenge on behalf of an unnamed producer. That producer now stands to recoup tens of thousands of dollars, Hill said.
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