Province to fight softwood lumber duties

04 November, 2017, 00:21 | Author: Garry Little
  • US cuts some tariffs on Canadian lumber imports

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a press release.

Susan Yurkovich, President of the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, said the duties are driven by a protectionist USA lumber industry whose sole objective is to constrain the imports of Canadian lumber and drive up prices for their own benefit.

The petition was filed on behalf of the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION), which is an ad hoc association whose members filed the case on behalf of its individual members: U.S. Lumber Coalition, Inc.

The U.S. agency said Canadian producers have exported softwood lumber to the U.S.at 3.2 to 8.89 per cent less than fair value.

"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 practices".

Nova Scotia has been collaborating with industry, Ottawa and USA officials since the expiry of the previous Softwood Lumber Agreement in October 2015, to explain why the exclusion should be maintained.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr called the punitive duties "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling".

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Thursday it will impose countervailing and antidumping import duties on several Canadian softwood lumber firms.

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"We are pleased the U.S. government is enforcing our trade laws so that the U.S. lumber industry can compete on a level playing field", said Jason Brochu, co-chairman and co-president of the U.S. Lumber Coalition. "A reliable source of softwood lumber products from B.C. and Canada will benefit the US housing industry and American home-buyers".

If the decision announced Thursday is approved by the International Trade Commission in December, Canadian companies would have to pay an average 20 percent tariff on the value of softwood delivered to us customers. 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.

The BC Government is furious with the final determinations of duties from the United States Department of Commerce. In addition, it concluded that Canada is providing unfair subsidies to its producers at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent.

Lumber shipments are not part of North American free-trade agreement, though the long-running softwood fight factors into one of the most controversial elements of the bilateral agreement - NAFTA's Chapter 19, which sets up trade panels to settle disputes.

"Home builders and home owners are already dealing with the monumental rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season and California wildfires", Granger said.

The U.S. Commerce Department said imports of softwood lumber from Canada in 2016 were valued at an estimated $5.66 billion U.S.

About 360,000 Canadians were employed in the lumber industry in 2013, Statistics Canada reported. These duties are a tax on American middle-class families too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive. "But we were very pleased, early on, that the USA industry recognized that this was a marketplace industry in the province. and that they recognized it early was positive for us".

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