- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

The United States yesterday accused Canada of unfair trade practices and asked the World Trade Organization to scrutinize the country's system for buying and selling wheat.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asked the WTO to form a dispute panel that would examine the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), which controls wheat and barley trade in the country's western provinces.
If it finds for the United States, the panel will require that Canada change its trading practices or face sanctions.
Canada unfairly assists its farmers through the wheat board's monopoly rights which limit U.S. exports to Canada and by subsidizing railroad transportation costs, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said last year.
Consultations between the two sides, completed in January, made no headway.
The North Dakota Wheat Commission, one of the groups pushing the U.S. government for help, said it was pleased with yesterday's action.
"Canadian farmers grow the same classes, the same qualities of wheat that we do in North Dakota. We have to try to sell wheat in the wake of the CWB's unfair pricing every day," commission Chairman Larry Lee said in a statement.
Canada says it is disappointed with the U.S. action, that its practices are in line with international trade rules and that the country's negotiators will defend them.
Canada and the United States are each other's biggest trading partner, though the wheat issue is one of several trade irritants between the two countries.
In addition, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been under growing pressure from Congress to use the WTO to help U.S. farmers and manufacturers. Earlier this week, the office came under fire for not filing an unrelated case against the European Union.

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