United States affirms tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports

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

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.

U.S. Commerce Department officials have ruled that Canada unfairly subsidizes the cost of logs it provides to Canadian timber companies, setting the stage for new tariffs on wood imports to the United States.

As a result of the findings, Commerce instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect import duties averaging 20.83 percentt on Canadian lumber imports.

One source with knowledge of the softwood discussions said the impediment to a deal was the US lumber industry, which appeared to prefer hitting Canada with tariffs than agreeing to a negotiated settlement. "A reliable source of softwood lumber products from B.C. and Canada will benefit the USA housing industry and American home-buyers".

"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", Ross said.

A 2006 softwood-lumber agreement expired in 2015.

The duties are "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling", Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, said in a joint emailed statement.

The US Department of Commerce said in its final determination released Thursday that most Canadian producers will pay a combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate of 20.83 per cent, down from 26.75 per cent in the preliminary determinations issued earlier this year.

Freeland and Carr said that the Canadian Government is reviewing its options, including the possibility of legal action through NAFTA and the WTO.

The Commerce Department's determination must still be approved by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is scheduled to make its final determinations around December 18, 2017.

"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-chair Jason Brochu said in an emailed statement. "This administration must fully enforce America's trade laws, not just for the mills and workers in OR and across the country, but for the communities that depend on them".

The BC Government is furious with the final determinations of duties from the United States Department of Commerce.

The U.S. Commerce Department said imports of softwood lumber from Canada in 2016 were valued at an estimated $5.66 billion U.S. The trade dispute has been an intermittent source of friction for years and was reignited in 2016 when the USA lumber industry filed a petition asking for duties.

"This tariff only adds to the burden by harming housing affordability and artificially boosting the price of lumber", Granger said. "It is nothing more than a thinly-disguised tax on American home buyers, home builders and consumers".

  • Santos West