Commission rules in favor of United States lumber industry

A worker at a softwood lumber mill in Fredericton

The U.S. International Trade Commission's made a final determination, in a 4-0 vote, that Canada subsidizes and dumps lumber exports into the United States, a move that is likely to increase already tense negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

SUSAN Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, on Thursday called the affirmative injury decision issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission [ITC] on softwood lumber as completely without merit.

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.

"Now, with a level playing field, the USA lumber industry, and the 350,000 hardworking men and women who support it, can have the chance to compete fairly", Brochu said.

Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, which represents lumber producers in British Columbia, the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the US, said the ruling by the commission "is completely without merit".

"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.

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The commission made the decision in a unanimous vote on December 7.

The tariff will average 20.83 percent on Canadian lumber imports, which are used mostly for home building in the United States. The Commerce Department a month ago issued a final determination that Canada subsidizes its forestry industry and dumps lumber on the USA market at unfairly low prices, and the department issued final tariffs of 20% or more, depending on which Canadian mill saws the lumber.

The U.S. Commerce Department last month lowered preliminary duties. Canada also kicked off a process to challenge the tariffs at the World Trade Organization, the global trade arbiter that is under increasing pressure from the Trump administration. Those fees are lower than fees paid on USA timber, which comes largely from private land.

Any lumber agreement is expected to remain outside of a final NAFTA pact. Canadian producers paid about $500 million in deposits for the duties thus far, with more to come in 2018 if there is no settlement.

In 2016, Canada exported rough $5 billion in softwood lumber to the U.S.

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