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In building his career, Mark Moran has worked with some solid material — lumber, Canadian softwood, that is. As lead counsel for the Canadian lumber industry, the 52-year-old Steptoe & Johnson partner played a key role in the biggest trade case ever litigated under U.S. law. Terms of the settlement, reached last year, include the lifting of U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber imports and the refund of more than $4 billion in duties to Canadian companies. “He really delivered the goods for us,” says John Allan, president of the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council and secretary to the national umbrella organization, the Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance. “He’s been an all-around top-notch asset to our team.” Allan describes Moran as “thorough, strategic, articulate, and he writes well. He positioned us very well in a number of cases. I can say nothing but good things about him.” Moran’s involvement with the lumber dispute dates back to 1991 and a preceding case commonly referred to as Lumber III. (It all began with Lumber I in 1982; the dispute settled last year is unofficially Lumber IV.) Lumber III was ultimately resolved by a five-year trade pact, the Softwood Lumber Agreement, which restricted Canadian imports. That agreement expired on March 31, 2001, and two days later, the U.S. lumber industry petitioned the Department of Commerce to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imports. U.S. companies alleged that the Canadian government was unfairly subsidizing the country’s timber industry. The next five years were an all-consuming odyssey, says Moran. “The scope of the case was so enormous.” Indeed, it was litigated on multiple fronts — before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Court of International Trade, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, several North American Free Trade Agreement panels, and the World Trade Organization. The result: four separate decisions on whether Canada was dumping lumber in the United States, five decisions on appropriate countervailing duties, and three decisions on whether the U.S. lumber industry had suffered significant overall injury. Moran, who was involved in all of these cases, says one personal highlight was arguing before the WTO appellate body in February 2006. At issue was a threat of injury determination issued by the International Trade Commission in November 2004. A WTO panel had held that the ruling was proper, but Canada appealed. Moran was tapped by the Canadian government to represent it before the WTO’s highest court. He describes the experience as “really unlike anything I’ve ever done.” There was an all-day hearing and “constant questioning. It was a very intense dialogue.” In April 2006, the appellate body reversed the panel decision, handing Canada a victory that, according to Moran, “established a key precedent” on the standard of review that WTO panels must apply when reviewing the decisions of national agencies such as the International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department. It wasn’t the only important precedent to come out of the lumber dispute. Tembec Inc. v. United States, a 2006 Court of International Trade decision, established that parties seeking relief under domestic law remedies will not be prejudiced by parallel litigation before the WTO. Moran served as co-counsel to the Canadian side. In a companion case also titled Tembec v. United States, the court ruled that NAFTA panel decisions invalidating International Trade Commission determinations must be given retroactive effect. The United States was ordered to refund, with interest, more than $5 billion in duties paid by Canadian companies during the Lumber IV proceedings. The court later vacated its judgment as moot in light of the Lumber IV settlement, but expressly held that its opinion remained persuasive authority. Although lumber has dominated Moran’s practice in recent years, he isn’t a one-import attorney. For example, he has also been involved in a fight over steel wire rod in which he represents the Trinidad and Tobago operations of Mittal Steel North America Inc. R. Ravi, vice president for long products, sales and marketing, at Mittal Steel North America, has worked closely with Moran for 10 years on all aspects of the litigation. “He is particularly gifted in breaking down complicated laws into layman’s terms,” says Ravi, who previously worked for Mittal in Trinidad. “He is very upfront about what a case means, what it will cost, the consequences if you lose, and the possibility of success. Every case we walked into with our eyes open.” Also, Ravi adds, “He has been able to give us some significant victories.” Notably in 2001, Moran persuaded the Commerce Department that there was no need for a countervailing duty against Mittal’s steel. In what Moran calls “one of the most contested issues in all of [countervailing duty] law for the past two decades,” Commerce for the first time found that a foreign company that had purchased the assets of a state-owned enterprise being privatized did not continue to benefit from the pre-privatization subsidies. Moran earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1986. He joined Steptoe based on the D.C. firm’s strong international trade practice. Alongside such well-known colleagues as Richard Cunningham, whom many dub a dean of the international trade bar, and Susan Esserman, Moran has obviously thrived. “I’m a lifer,” he says.

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