W.T.O. to establish panels to probe Canada's complaints on softwood lumber imports

The World Trade Organization is granting Canada's wish and has agreed to establish two panels to examine Canada's complaint about duties imposed by the United States on softwood lumber imports.

The Canadian government requested March 27th that a panel be set up to examine the dispute after consultations with the U-S in January failed to resolve the matter.

It also requested a second panel to review the US use of differential pricing methodology in its anti-dumping determinations.

The US objected to the Canadian requests.

Ottawa says the American duties represent a ``considerable hardship'' on softwood lumber producers and communities across Canada while the U-S has argued that the duties were fully consistent with its obligations under the WTO agreements.

Canada has also launched a separate wide-ranging complaint to the WTO about the way the US applies punitive tariffs that has infuriated the Americans.

The Canadian government has suggested it might drop that major international trade case if it gets a softwood lumber deal.