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British Columbia to fight softwood lumber duties

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Staff Writer | November 3, 2017
The U.S. on Thursday cut tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber but still insists the Canadian government is “providing unfair subsidies” to its producers.
Canada softwood
Trade relations   The forest sector is an integral part
The U.S. Commerce Department decided on the tariff reduction unilaterally because the two countries could not reach a mutually satisfactory deal.

The Commerce Department reduced import duties for most Canadian producers to 20.83 percent from 26.75 percent.

In 2016, the U.S. imported an estimated $5.66 billion worth of softwood lumber from Canada, the Commerce Department said.

Premier John Horgan re-affirmed his commitment to stand-up for British Columbia workers, families and communities in light of the latest development in the softwood lumber dispute.

The United States Department of Commerce has announced its final determination of duties of 20.83% to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.

The final countervailing duty rate is 14.25% (a decrease from the preliminary rate 19.88%) and the final anti-dumping duty rate is 6.58% (a decrease from the preliminary rate 6.87%).

“We will continue to fight for the 60,000 British Columbians who depend on forestry,” said Premier Horgan.

“The forest sector is an integral part of B.C.’s sustainable economy, and we will make sure workers, families and communities have the support they need to mitigate the impact of these duties.

“The reduction in rates by the U.S. Department of Commerce further indicates the strength of our appeal case and strengthens our resolve to fight for B.C.”

About half of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the United States originate from British Columbia, and the United States is British Columbia’s largest market for softwood lumber products.

Over the past year, high lumber prices have helped to mitigate the impact of the softwood lumber duties on B.C. companies.

“This trade action is being driven by the protectionist United States lumber lobby, whose sole purpose is to constrain imports of high-quality Canadian lumber and to drive up lumber prices for their own benefit,” said Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council.

“This trade action ultimately punishes American consumers who are now paying higher prices for Canadian lumber when they buy, build or renovate their homes.”

“The U.S. continues to attack its closest friend, neighbour and ally while domestically the U.S. lumber coalition continues to put the interest of its members ahead of what is good for the American economy and American consumers,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

“The U.S. lumber industry cannot produce enough lumber to meet U.S. demand. A reliable source of softwood lumber products from B.C. and Canada will benefit the U.S. housing industry and American home-buyers.”

British Columbia will be supporting the federal government in appealing the U.S. Department of Commerce’s findings. The appeals cannot be filed until after the U.S. International Trade Commission issues its determination in December.

“The dispute with the U.S. highlights the need to grow other markets for B.C. wood products. To that end, I’m leading a forestry sector trade mission with over 35 senior forestry executives to China and Japan later this month. This mission builds on previous work done to grow these important markets,” said Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson.

“As well, we’re also committed to expanding our innovative wood products sector and developing public sector procurement policies that prioritize the use of B.C. wood.”

British Columbia’s forest sector is an integral part of a sustainable economy. In 2016, the B.C. forest sector supported 60,000 direct jobs and one in four manufacturing jobs.

The B.C. government is committed to working with communities and industry to create more B.C. jobs from every tree harvested in B.C.