United States trade body rules Canadian softwood hurts USA industry

The latest round of the softwood lumber battle will be fought out in the NAFTA dispute panel and at the WTO

The latest round of the softwood lumber battle will be fought out in the NAFTA dispute panel and at the WTO

The United States International Trade Commission has found the importing of Canadian softwood lumber has hurt the USA market.

The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the lumber industry, according to the US lumber coalition.

"Now, with a level playing field, the US lumber industry, and the 350,000 hardworking men and women who support it, can have the chance to compete fairly", said Jason Brochu, co-chair of the US Lumber Coalition. It also found Canada is providing unfair subsidies to Canadian softwood producers at rates from 3.34 to 18.19 per cent.

Canada has already challenged the USA lumber tariffs through two worldwide dispute-settlement procedures, calling the duties "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling".

Although workers in the Canadian industry fear layoffs, so far that hasn't happened, says Joel Neuheimer, vice-president of global trade and transportation for the Forest Products Association of Canada.

The decision will impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affecting about $5.66 billion worth of lumber and comes amid increasingly acrimonious talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the trilateral trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

We believe an independent tribunal will find that the current USA allegations against Canada are as unfounded as the ones they brought in the past", he said, adding, "We will continue to defend B.C.'s interests in the softwood lumber dispute and the 60,000 people who rely on B.C.'s forest sector for their jobs and livelihoods.


More than 95 percent of all imported lumber came from Canada a year ago.

"If we were not seeing the same kind of demand and the same kind of high prices we're seeing then we might be in an entirely different type of situation", said Neuheimer.

The ruling comes amid a growing number of trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada and is likely to complicate already tense negotiations over Nafta.

The complaints led to the current duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce last spring and verified in November.

The department determined most Canadian producers will pay an average, combined antidumping/countervailing duty of 20.83 per cent.

Canada has already challenged the countervailing duties under Chapter 19 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The WTO process could take years.

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