US lumber group files petition against Canadian softwood producers

US lumber group files petition against Canadian softwood producers

US lumber group files petition against Canadian softwood producers

The petition details the injury suffered by US industry and workers by reason of unfairly-traded Canadian softwood lumber imports.

The coalition alleges that provincial governments, which own most of Canada's vast timberlands, provide trees to Canadian producers at rates far below market value, along with other subsidies.

In addition, they say Canadian lumber is being sold in the U.S.at below fair market value, and are seeking an anti-dumping duty to counter that claim. Under the past dispute, which ended in 2006, the United States slapped an average 27-per-cent tariff on Canadian softwood and collected $5.3-billion (U.S.) over the length of the battle.

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, said in a statement Friday that the USA claims are based on unsubstantiated arguments.

While our preference remains free trade, a managed-trade agreement is preferable to litigation, which is not only costly for lumber producers and the federal and provincial governments, but also creates increased market uncertainty, harming producers on both sides of the border, and increases the costs of lumber to USA consumers. An earlier story did not make clear that both the US and Canada bicker over whether Canadian companies have cheap access to public forests.

"These protectionist measures would negatively impact the economies in both countries", the Council of the Federation said in a news release.

"The imposition of duties that may result from an investigation would not only hurt communities in Canada where forestry is a major economic driver, but also negatively impact the US residential construction industry and aspiring USA home buyers, as it will drive up the cost of US homes and dampen the US housing recovery".

US lumber group files petition against Canadian softwood producers
US lumber group files petition against Canadian softwood producers

In a statement, B.C. forests minister Steve Thomson says the province is disappointed in the petition and are encouraging the US government to review previous cases of the allegations.

The Americans want to limit softwood imports so the Canadian share of USA lumber consumption is capped at about 22 per cent. The Canadian lumber industry has said it would oppose quotas on softwood lumber that can be shipped into the U.S.

"Canada should use all of its natural resources as leverage in any negotiations with the United States", he said.

OTTAWA-U.S. lumber producers filed a trade complaint over Canadian lumber imports on Friday, making good on an earlier threat that could revive a decades-old trade fight at a time when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump seeks major changes to the North American Free-Trade Agreement.

The notice of litigation comes after the last Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement expired in October.

The statement goes on to say that it is in the "best interests" of both countries that a new agreement on softwood lumber is reached.

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