Softwood Lumber Duties by US Remain Devastating for Canada

US slaps import duties on Canadian softwood lumber

Members of the province's softwood lumber industry are breathing easier today after news that the United States department of commerce decided Newfoundland and Labrador would be excluded from any tariffs.

Last year, Wyden, together with 23 other senators, wrote a letter to President Obama urging the administration to fully enforce USA trade laws if it can not reach a fair, effective, and sustainable agreement with Canada on softwood lumber trade. The tariffs will take full effect at the border if a USA trade body confirms that the Canadian practices injured the US industry, a decision expected later this month.

The department also believes Canada had unfairly subsidized the lumber exports at between 3.3 percent and 18.2 percent.

"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".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called the duties "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling", saying they harm workers in Canada.

The United States will continue to hammer imported Canadian softwood lumber, but the U.S. Commerce department said Thursday that it will impose smaller penalties than originally announced.

"We will forcefully defend Canada's softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past", Freeland and Carr said.

"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.

"This decision to uphold the imposition of tariffs is a major setback for the Canadian forestry sector, including tens of thousands of Canadian workers and communities with remaining mills", said Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chairperson, representing 40,000 workers across the country.

"In the absence of such a solution, Canada must state unequivocally that it will use every avenue possible - including legal action through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization - to overturn these duties which are without merit", he said.

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. That move turned out to be successful in 2017, with the Commerce Department deciding to penalize Canadian producers, first with countervailing duties starting on April 28 and then anti-dumping duties beginning on June 30.

The Department of Commerce announced Thursday its final subsidy determination for softwood lumber from Canada, finding final subsidy margins averaging 14.25 percent.

Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said the softwood tariffs come as home builders and homeowners are rebuilding in the aftermath of hurricanes and California wildfire. 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.

"This tariff only adds to the burden by harming housing affordability and artificially boosting the price of lumber", Granger said. These duties are a tax on American middle-class families too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive.

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