Yesterday, Canada launched the first WTO dispute of the year to mark the start of the auspicious year of 2018. The respondent in the dispute - the US - was apparently not very amused and called the request for consultations "a broad and ill-advised attack on the U.S. trade remedies system." Furthermore, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pointed out in the same statement that the Canadian action is counterproductive as "if the U.S. removed the orders listed in Canada’s complaint, the flood of imports from China and other countries would negatively impact billions of dollars in Canadian exports to the United States".
The reference to China might be surprising for some, but to be fair, we can't really blame the US for dragging China in because it was Canada which first referred to China. In its request for consultations, Canada made copious references to AD & CVD cases involving China, which again is unsurprising as China has long been the primary target of AD & CVD actions worldwide.
However, does this mean that the US claim that China stands to benefit more from the Canadian action is true? I don't think so for two reasons:
1. The Canadian action is challenging various practices in US AD & CVD actions in general, rather than the result of specific AD & CVD actions. Thus, there is no need for the US to remove orders in specific cases, unless of course, if an AD & CVD case on the list is still ongoing at the conclusion of the WTO case, which is rather unlikely.
2. As the cases are AD & CVD cases rather than safeguard cases, the determinations are at least country-specific or even firm-specific. Thus, the fact that the orders against one country are removed do not necessarily affect those against the other countries, as the two are on parallel tracks.
Another interesting question is whether China will answer the call from the US and get more involved in the case. I think China will definitely join as a third party, but probably not as a co-complaint. Why? Because China is more worried about the discriminatory non-market economy status in this case. But the fond memories of Dr. Norman Bethune will surely be brought up in China again, at least among some circles.