US Finds Canada Dumped Lumber, Sets Duties

The U.S. Department of Commerce has reduced softwood lumber duties for all Canadian producers except Resolute Forest Products. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Paul Chiasson

"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".

"The U.S. continues to attack its closest friend, neighbour and ally while domestically the U.S. lumber coalition continues to put the interest of its members ahead of what is good for the American economy and American consumers", said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

Commerce Department also determined that Canada is providing unfair subsidies to its producers of softwood lumber at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent and it has asked us customs and border protection agency to collect cash deposits from importers based on these rates.

In a joint statement, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr called the decision "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling".

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. The announcement prompted Canada to threaten litigation through the North American Free Trade Agreement or the World Trade Organization.

"We have kept the decisions and the discussions around softwood separate from discussions on NAFTA, but obviously every different aspect of our deep and broad relationship with the United States comes into the conversation that we have regularly", Trudeau said according to CBC News.

The preliminary duties have forced Canadian companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits, which could be refunded if they win a final ruling by the US International Trade Commission around December 18.

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a press release.

"This decision to uphold the imposition of tariffs is a major setback for the Canadian forestry sector, including tens of thousands of Canadian workers and communities with remaining mills", said Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chairperson, representing 40,000 workers across the country.

The department also believes Canada had unfairly subsidized the lumber exports at between 3.3 percent and 18.2 percent.

"We urge the USA administration to rescind these duties, which harm workers and communities in Canada", Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement with Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said the softwood tariffs come as home builders and homeowners are rebuilding in the aftermath of hurricanes and California wildfire.

"This tariff only adds to the burden by harming housing affordability and artificially boosting the price of lumber", Granger said. "These duties are a tax on American middle class families, too, whose homes, renovations and repairs will only be more expensive". Also excluded are US lumber shipped to Canada for some processing and imported back into the USA, certain box-spring kits, and box-spring frame components.

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.

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