Trump slaps preliminary duties of up to 24% on Canadian softwood lumber

Apr 25 2017, 1:45 pm

Canada’s forest industry is the latest target of the Trump administration, as the White House confirmed that lumber imports from Canada into the US will face preliminary duties of up to 24%.

Late Monday, the US Department of Commerce announced its decision regarding the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of softwood lumber from Canada.

According to a White House release, the CVD law gives American businesses and workers a “transparent and internationally accepted mechanism to seek relief from the market distorting effects caused by injurious subsidization of imports into the United States, establishing an opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”

The investigation looked at five Canadian companies that export to the US and slapped a duty on each one:

  • J.D Irving Ltd. 3.02%
  • Resolute: 12.82%
  • Tolko: 19.5 %
  • Canfor: 20.26%
  • West Fraser: 24.12%

“It has been a bad week for US- Canada trade relations, said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement. “Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to effectively cut off the last dairy products being exported from the United States. Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood lumber exports to us.”

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This, he said, “is not our idea of a properly functioning free trade agreement.”

Canada responds

In a statement on the the Government of Canada’s website, the government said that Canada’s forest industry “has transformed itself into one of the most innovative sectors of our economy… developing new products and expanding its markets.”

It added that “hundreds of thousands” of Canadians and their communities depend on the forest industry for good jobs, new opportunities and prosperity for future generations.

“Our government will vigorously defend its interests as a way to strengthen the industry and support the people and communities that rely upon it,” said Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr in a statement.

Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, echoed Carr’s sentiments. “Our government stands ready to take action to protect and support the workers, families and communities who may be affected by the softwood lumber trade dispute,” Duclos said. “The softwood lumber industry is a priority for our government, as this industry provides employment in communities across the country and is a source of economic prosperity.”

BC Liberal Party leader Christy Clark responded to the news as well.

“My message to B.C. forest workers, their families, and producers is this: We are here for you. We will fight for you. And we will not give up,” she said in an emailed statement. ““The forest industry built this province, and it has a strong future ahead – having added 9,825 jobs in the sector since 2011. We will only accept a new agreement that works for B.C. We will fight, and we will win – as we have before.”

BC Green Party Leader called the news “devastating,” adding that the BC forest industry has “already struggled under the Christy Clark government.”

Weaver added that forestry “is one of our most important resource sectors and the current government has undervalued it.”

A BC Green government, he said said “will place restrictions on the export of raw logs and drive innovation by removing PST on machinery and equipment for modernization so that the value of our forestry industry stays in BC.”