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Lumber industry group challenges constitutionality of NAFTA provision

[JURIST] A US lumber industry trade group has challenged the constitutionality of the dispute settlement system [NAFTA backgrounder] under the North American Free Trade Agreement [text; Secretariat website], arguing that the system violates due process. The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports [official website] filed the lawsuit Tuesday after an independent panel under NAFTA had previously struck down US tariffs on Canadian lumber [CBC News backgrounder]. In the lawsuit, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the lumber group argued that NAFTA judges should not be allowed to override decisions by the US Commerce Department and International Trade Commission. Observers said the suit was unlikely to succeed, as a similar one was filed in 1994 and success would cause significant damange to NAFTA. The lawsuit targets rulings made under Chapter 19 of the treaty in particular. The Bush administration is expected to oppose the suit. The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports has a news release [PDF text] on the action. Bloomberg has more.

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