Softwood Lumber: Canadian Reaction to U.S. Duties

Softwood Lumber

Softwood Lumber: Canadian Reaction to U.S. Duties

UPDATED April 25, 2017 3:23pmET

Canadian ministers and officials are defending the softwood lumber sector amidst a U.S. decision to impose a preliminary countervailing duty on imports.

Here is Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, who spoke to reporters to follow up on yesterday’s written statement critical of the Department of Commerce announcement:


NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, however, was sharply critical of the federal government’s strategy on trade issues:

Here’s some reaction from the British Columbia lumber industry:

The U.S. Commerce Department announced the preliminary duties on Apr. 24, with a final decision scheduled for later this year. Canadian exporters will pay between three and 24-per-cent tariffs, at an average of 20 per cent across the sector, to match what Washington deems “countervailable subsidies” from Canada’s provincial governments in the form of lower stumpage fees on publicly-owned land.

Some companies will also have to pay duties 90 days retroactive to the formal order.

A group of American lumber companies had lobbied Washington to investigate Canada’s softwood exports and impose new duties.

The United States International Trade Commission determined in January that there was a “reasonable indication” that the U.S. lumber industry was “materially injured” by Canadian imports — which totalled $5.7 billion US in 2016

Nearly 70 per cent of Canadian softwood lumber exports go to the United States, according to Canadian government officials, who said today the new duties “will cause harm on both sides of the border” in the shape of Canadian economic loss and higher U.S. construction costs.

A federal-provincial task force on softwood lumber will meet later this week to plan a response, Carr said.

Canada could potentially file a challenge with the World Trade Organization (WTO) or via the dispute settlement process for NAFTA — an agreement U.S. President Donald Trump is keen to re-negotiate.

Watch the full news conference with Carr and National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier:

Mulcair’s full news conference:

And the B.C. Lumber Trade Council in Vancouver:

Watch More:

On Feb. 8, several Quebec mayors continued their call for a new Canada–U.S. agreement on softwood lumber. (no interpretation)

Then-international trade minister Chrystia Freeland, still responsible for Canada-U.S. trade issues as foreign affairs minister, spoke in Washington on Sept. 14, 2016 after meeting former U.S. trade representative Michael Froman. 48945389

Of course, the softwood lumber dispute isn’t a new one:

-Andrew Thomson