February 21, 2018

Softwood Lumber Duties by US Remain Devastating for Canada

04 November 2017, 12:21 | Rodolfo Wallace

US slaps import duties on Canadian softwood lumber

US cuts some tariffs on Canadian lumber imports

The department said exporters from Canada had sold softwood lumber in the USA market at 3.20 percent to 8.89 percent less than fair value, and that Canada was providing unfair subsidies at rates of 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent.

The lumber dispute, a similar tariff fight over Bombardier Inc. jets made in Canada, and a disagreement over milk products have dominated business headlines in Canada this year, raising concerns that the trade friction could spill over into the neighbors' broader bilateral ties.

The Canadian government has vowed to defend the domestic lumber industry against protectionist measures.

USA lumber interests backed the decision for a tariff averaging 20.83 percent on Canadian lumber imports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed final tariffs averaging 20.83 per cent against Canadian shipments of softwood lumber into the United States. "This decision is based on a full and unbiased review of the facts in an open and transparent process that defends American workers and businesses from unfair trade practises".

The duties have driven up the price of lumber, adding to the cost of building a home in the United States.

The duties are "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling", Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, said in a joint emailed statement.

The U.S. Commerce Department has set the final countervailing and anti-dumping duties against Canadian softwood lumber exports.

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The US has claimed for decades that Canada is unfairly subsidising its lumber industry by charging minimal fees to log public lands.

The preliminary duties have forced Canadian companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits, which could be refunded if they win a final ruling by the US International Trade Commission around December 18.

"We are pleased the USA government is enforcing our trade laws so that the USA lumber industry can compete on a level playing field", said coalition co-chairman Jason Brochu.

The trade issue will probably not be resolved in the near term as the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement has taken center stage, Mark Wilde, an analyst with BMO in NY, said Wednesday in an email.

The BC Government is furious with the final determinations of duties from the United States Department of Commerce. While the tariffs aren't as bad as they were before, they still "represent a burden on forestry workers and communities right across the country", he said. Canada also is providing unfair subsidies to its producers at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent. The Canadian industry wants to retain the right to supply larger amounts of lumber to US consumers when needed, according to people following the talks.

In 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador exported $10.5-million worth of softwood lumber to the United States.

"Such a claim by Canada would be ridiculous after all the efforts we and our government have put into realizing an agreement, and the inability of the Canadian industry to have a unified position on any agreement to this day", he wrote in an e-mail. "These duties are a tax on the American middle-class families, too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive".

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