Just when you thought U.S. and Canadian trade relations might be in repair, Canada filed a lawsuit last week in the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York against the Byrd Amendment.

In a nutshell, the Byrd Amendment lets U.S. firms that have been injured by imported products produced via "unfair" subsidies or by products that were "dumped" on to the market, collect duties against those products. Hence the duty challenge that the U.S. pork industry, via the National Pork Producers Council, presented against Canadian live-hog imports. Of course, in the end the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against NPPC in that case.

According to the World Trade Organization, the Byrd Amendment is illegal. As a matter of fact, WTO is allowing other countries to retaliate against U.S. products if the law isn’t repealed. So, just this weekend (May 1) Canada started imposing a 15 percent duty on U.S. live hogs, cigarettes and other goods. The European Union also imposed duties on some U.S. goods as of Saturday.

The Canadian softwood lumber industry, Canadian Wheat Board and magnesium producer Norsk Hydro joined with the Canadian government in filing suits.

Now, the number of hogs that the United States ships into Canada (mostly seedstock) is pretty minor. It appears that the Canadian action at least in the live-hog area is to illustrate a point. A point that the United States needs to heed, is when you point your finger at a country– such as Canada– the finger can quickly point back at you.

As the global market consitnues to grow, competition will continue to heat up. Remaining competitive is less about leveling the playing field, and filing trade cases as it is about thinking and acting innovatively.