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US aims to double softwood lumber duty; BC ‘frustrated’ about ‘egregious’ decision


May 21, 2021
By Ellen Cools, with files from BC Government, BC Lumber Trade Council

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The U.S. Department of Commerce today issued its preliminary determination in the second administrative review of Canadian softwood lumber imports.

According to a press release from the U.S. Lumber Coalition, the department concluded that Canadian imports are “heavily subsidized and dumped into the U.S. market” and issued a combined anti-subsidy and anti-dumping rate of 18.32 per cent.

The U.S. Lumber Coalition said the U.S. lumber industry is open to a new U.S.-Canada softwood lumber trade agreement “if and when Canada can demonstrate that it is serious about negotiations.”

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Read the full press release here.

Response from the BC government

B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Katrine Conroy and B.C. Minister of State for Trade George Chow released a statement in response:

“B.C. is frustrated and very concerned about the continued effect these unjustified punitive duties are having on our forest sector and on the families in communities throughout B.C. whose livelihoods depend on it.

These unfair U.S. duties have been compounding the costs for construction, resulting in rising housing costs on both sides of the border. If the duties go up even more, so will the cost of housing and construction.

Higher duties on Canadian softwood lumber not only hurt B.C. and Canadian businesses, they are a tax on consumers, including homebuyers in the U.S., that makes housing less affordable for American families and threatens post-pandemic economic recovery.

Now, more than ever, it’s essential to keep supply chains open for both sides of the border as Canada and the U.S. enter the next, post-vaccination phase of our economic recovery. We need open and stable supply chains for both countries to prosper during recovery, not trade barriers.

B.C. will continue to vigorously defend the 50,000 hardworking people in our forest industry against these unwarranted duties. We will continue to work alongside the federal government to challenge these unjustified duties through the World Trade Organization and Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement dispute settlement systems in the future.

We will also continue our work in pursuing growth in markets for B.C. wood products both at home and abroad by promoting innovation and by expanding our trade relationships in global markets.”

Response from the BC Lumber Trade Council

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, made the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) issuance of preliminary countervailing (CVD) and antidumping (AD) rates on Canadian softwood lumber:

“The preliminary combined ‘All Others’ rate has been set at 18.32 per cent, more than double the current combined ‘All Others’ rate of 8.99 per cent. Today’s decision is the outcome of the DOC’s second Administrative Review of its investigation into softwood lumber products from Canada. The rates are only preliminary and will not come into effect until a final rate is issue later this year.

We find the significant increase in today’s preliminary rates troubling. It is particularly egregious given lumber prices are at a record high and demand is skyrocketing in the U.S. as families across the country look to repair, remodel and build new homes. As U.S. producers remain unable to meet domestic demand, the ongoing actions of the industry, resulting in these unwarranted tariffs, will ultimately further hurt American consumers by adding to their costs.

If Commerce persists with its methodology and finalizes these rates at the end of this year, U.S. lumber consumers will bear the burden of further increased lumber costs. Our strong hope is that the U.S. industry will end this decades-long litigation and instead work with us to meet demand for the low-carbon wood products the world wants, including American families. Until then, we will continue to vigorously defend our industry against these meritless allegations.

As we have consistently said, and as has been proven time and time again in previous rounds of litigation, the Canadian lumber industry is not subsidized and continuous claims by U.S. producers are completely baseless.”

B.C. is the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S. The B.C. forest industry is a major contributor to the provincial economy and supports approximately 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.

The B.C. Lumber Trade Council is the voice on trade matters for companies in B.C. representing the majority of lumber production in the province.