US slaps dumping duties on Canadian wood, Ottawa vows to fight

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also announced a preliminary decision yesterday that softwood lumber products produced in the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island may be excluded from the countervailing and antidumping duties.

The decision - which is a preliminary figure awaiting final determination later this year - brings the average import duty to 26.75 per cent, when added to the countervailing duties the United States imposed at the end of April, arguing Canadian wood is unfairly subsidized.

In June, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled an $867-million aid package to the Canadian forestry industry to offset the effect of American duties on Canadian softwood producers.

Two other mandatory respondents, West Fraser Timber (TSX:WFT) and Tolko, were tagged with 6.76 and 7.53 per cent duties, respectively.

The decades-long dispute continues between the USA and Canada over whether the former government subsidizes its producers, allowing them to sell their product in the U.S.at below-market rates.

Before it elapsed, that deal had removed antidumping and countervailing duties from Canadian softwood lumber imports and required USA producers to give back some of the revenue collected previously.

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Canada supplies about a third of the lumber needed in the U.S.

USA lumber stocks were mixed at market open Tuesday in the wake of the Commerce Department's announcement.

The bilateral dispute is the fifth over lumber in less than 40 years.

"We will vigorously defend Canada's softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past", Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a joint statement. This represents significant progress in this longstanding dispute; however, we will continue to press our U.S. counterparts for the removal of duties for all provinces and would welcome a commitment by the U.S. Department of Commerce to consider an exclusion for New Brunswick.

Tariffs the US government implemented in late April on Canadian softwood lumber haven't had a jarring impact on lumber prices in the U.S.so far, according to some American lumberyard owners. The duties imposed "are based on a flawed rationale that is damaging to workers, communities and consumers in Canada and the U.S". Clearly, this is not the way to resolve the U.S. The 350,000 hard working men and women in the USA lumber industry deserve a level playing field. Industry experts say the punitive duties could linger throughout 2018 and possibly into 2019, until Canada and the United States negotiate a solution. Since then, trade between the two countries has become an increasingly fraught issue, with President Donald Trump seeking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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