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U.S. doubles softwood lumber ‘dumping’ duties on B.C. producers

Minister says issues in trade dispute will be appealed again
Logging trucks head down Highway 1 through Hope to join a convoy of drivers from across B.C. who were heading into Vancouver on Sept. 25, 2019. to protest provincial forestry policy. (Jessica Peters/Hope Standard)

The U.S. Commerce Department has upheld domestic lumber industry claims of unfair trade from Canadian competitors, roughly doubling its import tariffs and duties on B.C. and other producers, starting next week.

The latest rates in the decades-long dispute are a slight decrease from preliminary rates proposed for cash deposits by companies shipping lumber south. They are 17.9% for most companies, with special rates for four majors: 19.54% for B.C. based Canfor, 11.2% for West Fraser, 29.66% for Quebec-based Resolute, and 15% for New Brunswick-based J.D. Irving. The rates are expected to take effect Nov. 30.

The latest U.S. decision was delayed due to what the U.S. agency called complexities, after a year of record high and then rapidly falling lumber prices. The COVID-19 pandemic and a hot real estate market contributed to high demand across North America, and B.C.’s timber supply has sharply declined in recent years with forest fires, beetle infestations and continued environmental restrictions on logging.

In the legislature Nov. 24, Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said B.C.’s policy continues to be seeking new markets outside the U.S., and working with Ottawa to pursue appeals under the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement, the U.S. Court of International Trade and the World Trade Organization. The ruling divides the penalties into categories, based on allegations that Canadian wood from Crown land is subsidized, and “dumping” lumber to the U.S. market at a loss.

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