Winning a trade battle and preparing for war

Kristina Urquhart
October 05, 2018
By Kristina Urquhart
October 5, 2018 – I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new editor of Pulp & Paper Canada. I’m joining the magazine at what seems like a pivotal time, with plant optimization – whether via openings, closures or new technology – at the forefront of an industry that is adapting to fit a changing consumer landscape.

And it’s all against the backdrop of an ongoing trade dispute between Canada and the U.S. At the time of this writing, the re-negotiation of NAFTA is more or less in a deadlock. [Ed. note: NAFTA has since become USMCA. See here.] The 20 per cent tariffs that U.S. President Donald Trump imposed on Canadian softwood lumber last November are still in effect. Those duties were among the earliest in what has become a long line of retaliatory tariffs that Canada and our neighbours to the south have hurled at each other, including the U.S.’s anti-dumping and countervailing duties on supercalendared (glossy) paper and uncoated groundwood (newsprint) paper.

The Canadian pulp and paper industry certainly applauded when both of those paper tariffs were overturned earlier this summer, after pressure from American print outlets that were feeling the sting of rising costs as a result of the duties – in essence, tariffs ostensibly enacted to promote Made-in-USA products actually caused other American businesses suffer. Similarly, according to the U.S.-based National Association of Home Builders, the higher price of lumber is driving up the cost of builds by USD $9,000 and making housing even more unaffordable for Americans.

Canada lodged a complaint about the lumber issue to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in March of this year, where it still sits in front of a dispute settlement panel. The WTO did rule in our favour on the paper tariffs, but what will happen with the lumber, as well as with steel and aluminum, remains to be seen. As the saying goes: we may have won a battle, but we haven’t yet won the war.

We’ll keep covering the effects of the trade dispute in our upcoming issues, and bring you the latest news on And we want to get you involved, too. What other stories would you like to read? What are you and your company doing to respond to all of these changes in the pulp and paper industry, or to advance them? Please add me to your mailing lists so I don’t miss any of your updates.

I’m also looking forward to visiting a few mills and attending industry events, starting with an in-depth pulp, paper and bio-products course with FPInnovations in October 2018. I’ll be sure to report back in the next issue with what I learned. In the meantime, please send a note to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to introduce yourself and to tell me what your company has been up to – and, for those participating, don’t forget to send me your year-end results for our 2018 Safest Mill contest, the results of which will be announced in our Spring 2019 issue.

This editorial was originally published in the Fall 2018 of Pulp & Paper Canada.

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