U.S. slaps import duties on Canadian softwood lumber

THE CANADIAN PRESS

The U.S. Commerce Department announced its final tariffs Thursday, saying Canadian lumber mills have benefited from improper subsidies and dumped lumber at unfairly low prices on the American market, hurting competing U.S. mills. "With a fair-trade environment, the USA industry, and the 350,000 hardworking men and women who support it, have the ability to grow production to meet much more of our country's softwood lumber demand".

"If you look at all the facts how we manage our forestry in New Brunswick and how our softwood lumber industry in New Brunswick does business, it's quite clear historically that this industry in New Brunswick is not subsidized", Melanson said Thursday.

Ever since the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States expired in October 2015, relations on this front - and chances for cooperation - have been dismal.

Aides say President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have a strong personal relationship, but at the negotiating table Canadian, Mexican and US officials are divided in their efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The massive subsidies the Canadian government provides to their lumber industries have caused real harm to US producers and their workers". The Commerce Department also said Canada is providing unfair subsidies to its producers of softwood lumber at rates from 3.34 per cent to 18.19 per cent.

The U.S. International Trade Commission has 45 days to issue its final determination on whether the American lumber industry suffered harm.

The duties have driven up the price of lumber, adding to the cost of building a home in the United States. While Unifor is confident that the new US duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.

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Lumber products certified by the Atlantic Lumber Board as being first produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island are excluded from any duties.

Softwood lumber contributes more than $1.45 billion to the New Brunswick economy each year and employs more than 22,000 people.

"Home builders and home owners are already dealing with the monumental rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season and California wildfires", said Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, in a statement.

"We will forcefully defend Canada's softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past", Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in a joint statement. "It is nothing more than a thinly-disguised tax on American home buyers, home builders and consumers".

"As we have consistently said, these duties are unwarranted and this trade action is completely without merit", said Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council.

Also excluded is US lumber shipped to Canada for some processing and imported back into the USA, certain box spring kits, and box-spring frame components.

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