U.S. agency rules against Canada on softwood
Decision means duties won’t return to lumber companies
Canada’s softwood lumber industry suffered another blow after the U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously voted Thursday that its imports have harmed the American lumber industry.
In a 4-0 vote, the agency sided with the U.S. lumber coalition.
The U.S. Commerce Department last month lowered preliminary duties. Most Canadian producers will pay a combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate of 20.83 per cent, down from 26.75 per cent in the preliminary determinations issued earlier this year.
The duties have driven up the price of lumber, adding to the cost of building a home in the United States. Canadian unions and lumber companies fear the issue will eventually cause layoffs.
West Fraser Timber pays the highest duties at 23.7 per cent. Canfor is next at 22.13, followed by Tolko at 22.07, Resolute Forest Products at 17.9 per cent and J.D. Irving at 9.92 per cent.
The vote means $500 million in deposits for the duties paid by Canadian producers thus far won’t be returned as the industry had hoped.
A Resolute Forest Products spokesperson said the U.S. will now hold large industry deposits as “ransom” in hope of pushing the Canadian government to sign a “bad deal.”
“Sorry U.S., that’s not going to happen. Canada is not going to be bullied into submission,” Seth Kursman said in an interview from Washington, D.C.
He added that the financial health of American firms is clear evidence that no injury has been suffered.
“The U.S. industry has been crowing about its prosperity for over a year. It is making more money than at any previous time in history.”
Canada is challenging the duties under both the North American Free Trade Agreement and at the World Trade Organization.
Between 2001 and 2006, when the last softwood lumber dispute took place, it’s believed about 15,000 jobs disappeared in the softwood industry.
Yurkovich said the U.S. Coalition’s claims of injury “ring particularly hollow” given the strong financial performance the U.S. industry is seeing and Canadian imports are lower than in 2006 when imports were deemed noninjurious.
Logs are sorted at the Murray Brothers Lumber Co. woodlot in Madawaska, Ont.