Wyden applauds new tariffs on subsidized Canadian lumber

Ebony Scott
November 4, 2017

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.

The lumber dispute, a similar tariff fight over Bombardier Inc. jets made in Canada, and a disagreement over milk products have dominated business headlines in Canada this year, raising concerns that the trade friction could spill over into the neighbors' broader bilateral ties.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the USA remains committed to "free, fair and reciprocal trade with Canada", and that the decision is based on "a full and unbiased review of the facts in an open and transparent process".

The US government plans to slap duties of more than 20 per cent on Canadian softwood lumber and that has BC's premier renewing a promise to protect forestry jobs here.

"Unfortunately, for both Canadian producers and American consumers, this ongoing trade action against our industry continues to be driven by a protectionist United States lumber industry whose sole goal is to constrain the imports of high quality Canadian lumber to drive up prices for their own benefit".

Canadian producers will now pay 21.83%, down from 26.75%, for lumber shipments entering the United States.

In a joint statement on Canada's government website, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr called the remaining tariffs "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling".

The Commerce Department said Thursday it had finalized determinations that Canadian exporters of softwood lumber had sold their product in the United States at between 3.2 percent and 8.9 percent below fair value.

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US Customs and Border Protection will now be required to collect cash deposits from importers of softwood lumber from Canada, based on the final rates.

If the decision announced Thursday is approved by the International Trade Commission in December, Canadian companies would have to pay an average 20 percent tariff on the value of softwood delivered to USA customers.

"We are pleased the U.S. government is enforcing our trade laws so that the U.S. lumber industry can compete on a level playing field", U.S. Lumber Coalition co-chairman Jason Brochu wrote in an email statement.

The removal of punitive duties on Nova Scotia softwood lumber exports was announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, after it ruled Nova Scotia's lumber sector was operating in an open market rather than receiving an unfair subsidy.

The softwood lumber duties are a double-whammy for the USA housing sector, which is expected to have mortgage interest deductibility on new home purchases capped at US$500,000 during the federal tax overhaul. Canada also is providing unfair subsidies to its producers at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent.

Talks continue between Canada and the U.S.to get a softwood lumber agreement that would remove the duties.

The United States imported $5.7 billion worth of Canadian softwood lumber in 2016, according to the department, up from $4.5 billion in 2015. "This tariff only adds to the burden by harming housing affordability and artificially boosting the price of lumber". "It is nothing more than a thinly-disguised tax on American home buyers, home builders and consumers".

Other reports by GizPress

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