United States trade group finds Canadian softwood hurts American market

Reuters

The Canadian government, which has denied the dumping and subsidy charges, last week formally opened a case against the United States at the World Trade Organization over the Commerce Department's decision to impose the duties.

The United States International Trade Commission has found the importing of Canadian softwood lumber has hurt the US market.

The US is set to maintain tariffs on certain Canadian lumber imports after its trade commission found goods were being sold in the US below cost.

"The evidence presented to the ITC was clear - the massive subsidies that the Canadian government provides to its lumber industry and the dumping of lumber products into the usa market by Canadian companies cause real harm to us producers and workers", Coalition Co-Chair Jason Brochu said in a statement.

"Now, with a level playing field, the USA lumber industry, and the 350,000 hardworking men and women who support it, can have the chance to compete fairly".

"As we have said throughout this dispute, punitive U.S. countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber are unwarranted and troubling", Freeland said on Thursday.

Freeland also warned that the duties threaten Canadian middle-class jobs, especially in rural and indigenous communities, while punishing American consumers with higher lumber prices. International Trade Commission unanimously voted that Canadian exports have harmed the American lumber industry.

Canada has said the tariffs were determined using flawed methodology.

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The Canadian government has denied taking actions to prop up the industry to the detriment of the US industry.

This means Canadian producers will pay antidumping and countervailing duties on any softwood exported to the U.S.

Protecting lumber mills is aligned with Mr. Trump's "America first" trade policy, and lawmakers from timber-growing areas of the Southeast and Pacific Northwest have made it clear they support a tough line with Canada to protect American mill workers and timberland owners. Those fees are lower than fees paid on USA timber, which comes largely from private land.

Canada and the USA continue to negotiate a new softwood trade agreement.

Any lumber agreement is expected to remain outside of a final NAFTA pact.

Canada's attempt to quash the softwood lumber duties is in line with what observers describe as an aggressive "Canada First" approach on trade from the Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whether on issues regarding softwood lumber, aerospace and the Nafta renegotiations in general.

In 2016, imports of softwood lumber from Canada were valued at an estimated $5.66 billion.

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