Commission rules in favor of USA lumber industry

Reuters

Logs are unloaded at Murray Brothers Lumber Company woodlot in Madawaska, Ontario on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled today that the US lumber industry is materially injured by Canadian government subsidies of its softwood lumber industry.

The U.S. locked in final tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada, ratcheting up economic pressure with a top trading partner and showing the Trump administration's determination to punish what it sees as unfairly traded imports.

In 2016, imports of softwood lumber from Canada were valued at an estimated $5.66 billion.

The U.S. lumber coalition position is that Canada unfairly subsidizes its producers with low stumpage fees for harvesting trees on government land and that Canadian producers are selling wood into the U.S.at lower prices than they sell it at home.

"The evidence presented to the ITC was clear - the massive subsidies that the Canadian government provides to its lumber industry and the dumping of lumber products into the U.S. market by Canadian companies cause real harm to U.S. producers and workers", said Jason Brochu, U.S. Lumber's co-chairman in a statement.

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The U.S. imports about a third of its lumber.

"The ITC finding of "injury", despite the current record-setting profitability of the USA lumber industry, makes it very clear that this was not an objective evaluation of the facts", Yurkovich said.

"There can be no doubt that this process is biased in favour of the USA industry".

"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 U.S. Commerce Department last month lowered preliminary duties. It also found Canada is providing unfair subsidies to Canadian softwood producers at rates from 3.34 to 18.19 per cent. This decision means the tariffs imposed by the Commerce Department will remain in effect for Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. These tariffs are acting as a tax on American home buyers and lumber consumers. That move could redouble the determination of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who has sought to eliminate the dispute-resolution system that allows the three countries to challenge each other's tariffs under Nafta's Chapter 19.

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