Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports Face More Tarriffs

The Commerce Department said Monday that it would impose preliminary antidumping duties of between 4.59% and 7.72% on some Canadian softwood lumber imports, The Hill reported.

These new anti-dumping duties, which range from 4.59 per cent to 7.72 per cent, are in addition to the preliminary countervailing duties of 19.88 per cent imposed in April that are set to expire on August 27.

"As our government announced earlier this month, we are investing $867 million to support workers and communities affected by these ill-conceived duties, diversify our forest products and worldwide markets, and facilitate access to a range of financial services for our producers on commercial terms".

When combined the applicable duty rates range from 30.88 percent to 17.41 percent, the Commerce Department said.

The Trump administration has accused Canada of unfairly selling its lumber in the US below production costs, aided in part by improper government subsidies - a trade practice known as "dumping".

We are frustrated that the U.S. Department of Commerce has chose to impose additional unjustified duties on Ontario's softwood lumber producers. A final decision is expected by late summer.

But long-time trade irritants such as lumber and dairy with Canada may weigh heavily on how fast those discussions move forward despite the advance work being done by coalitions of U.S., Canadian and Mexican business groups to smooth the process. "Policymakers need to take steps to significantly reduce red tape that prevents the U.S. Forest Service from better managing its timber lands and increase the delivery of domestic timber products into the market". Even so, the USA still represents about 50 per cent of B.C. lumber exports, with 30 per cent going to Asia.

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Last month, the New Brunswick government appointed former USA ambassador David Wilkins as the province's special envoy on the softwood trade dispute.

Analyst Paul Quinn of RBC Capital Markets believes the USA will play hardball and impose high anti-dumping rates in order to push Canada to agree to a deal before negotiations on NAFTA begin in August. The alternative is to be subject to USA legal processes created to favour a few select timber barons.

"The Government of Canada stands firmly behind the Canadian forest industry".

The United States on Monday slapped a second round of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber in an escalation of the trade dispute.

The trade spat, which has been going on intermittently for decades, was reignited in November when the US lumber industry filed a petition asking for duties. "This was proven in the last round of litigation and we fully expect it will be the case again".

The Commerce Department says it will add a almost eight percent anti-dumping duty on Candadian lumber. Each time the Canadian government said it has been able to demonstrate to the World Trade Organization or under the North American Free Trade Agreement that it is not subsidizing lumber exports.

  • Regina Walsh