USA trade group finds Canadian softwood hurts American market

Paola Ditto
Dicembre 8, 2017

In a 4-0 vote Thursday, the agency sided with the USA lumber coalition that it was materially injured by imports from Canada.

The U.S. International Trade Commission has unanimously voted that the American lumber industry has been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports.

"At the same time, the US and Canada need to hammer out an equitable agreement to resolve this ongoing trade dispute that will provide American consumers a steady supply of lumber at a reasonable price".

"The U.S. Lumber Coalition fully supports the enforcement of America's trade laws", said in a statement Jason Brochu, U.S. Lumber Coalition co-chair and co-president of Pleasant River Lumber Company.

American producers allege that the Canadian industry is subsidized by the provincial and federal governments, while in the US, prices are set by the market - a situation the USA contends is unfair.

Freeland also warned that the duties threaten Canadian middle-class jobs, especially in rural and indigenous communities, while punishing American consumers with higher lumber prices.

The Trump administration has repeatedly vowed to punish countries they say violate trade rules to the detriment of the United States.

"As a result of the USITC's affirmative determinations, Commerce will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of this product from Canada", a release explaining the ruling said.

The ruling allows the US Department of Commerce to levy permanent duties on softwood lumber imports, according to the USITC. Since the USA doesn't' produce enough lumber to meet the nation's domestic needs, we need to take steps to boost domestic production. However, the present issue was launched as part of a Trump administration initiative to begin enforcing existing U.S. trade laws instead of relying on dispute resolution procedures in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Those fees are lower than fees paid on US timber, which comes largely from private land.

The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land.

Any lumber agreement is expected to remain outside of a final NAFTA pact.

Canada's attempt to quash the softwood lumber duties is in line with what observers describe as an aggressive "Canada First" approach on trade from the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whether on issues regarding softwood lumber, aerospace and the Nafta renegotiations in general.

Trade data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows the amount of Canadian softwood imported fell eight per cent for first nine months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016.

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