USA sets final tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada

Premier Stephen McNeil

Canadian companies exporting lumber to the USA will pay combined duties of about 20% on all lumber exports to the US, once they go into effect sometime in December. Cracking down on US deficit has been one of the core principles of this administration.

The United States will continue to hammer imported Canadian softwood lumber, but the U.S. Commerce department said Thursday that it will impose smaller penalties than originally announced.

The weighted average tariffs levied by the Trump administration consist of 14.25 per cent for countervailing duties and 6.58 per cent for anti-dumping levies.

Canadian firms have sold softwood lumber the United States at 3.20 percent to 8.89 percent less than fair value, the Commerce Department determined. The Canadian industry wants to retain the right to supply larger amounts of lumber to USA consumers when needed, according to people following the talks.

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But the B.C. government is also aggressively trying to push B.c. lumber into Asian markets.

Last year, Wyden, together with 23 other senators, wrote a letter to President Obama urging the administration to fully enforce US trade laws if it can not reach a fair, effective, and sustainable agreement with Canada on softwood lumber trade.

Nova Scotia has been collaborating with industry, Ottawa and US officials since the expiry of the previous Softwood Lumber Agreement in October 2015, to explain why the exclusion should be maintained.

In its final determination, Commerce said 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.

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The petition was filed on behalf of the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION), which is an ad hoc association whose members filed the case on behalf of its individual members: U.S. Lumber Coalition, Inc.

The lumber duties are "unjust and punitive" and Canada will continue to push back against American industry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Brampton, Ontario. Canada also is providing unfair subsidies to its producers at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent. These duties are a tax on American middle-class families too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive. "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 practises". Their impacts have been mitigated by high lumber prices in the U.S. The duties will push lumber prices even higher, so the biggest impact may be on American builders and new homeowners.

Canada may take legal action through dispute settlement mechanisms under the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization, but Freeland said officials continue to engage with their American counterparts about a negotiated settlement. Canadian unions and lumber companies fear the issue will eventually cause layoffs once prices and demand fall. The U.S. industry wants Canada to limit its share of the U.S. softwood lumber market strictly below a set level.

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