United States locks in duties on Canada's softwood lumber industry

Trade Commission sides with US on softwood lumber dispute

The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Thursday it made a final finding that exports of softwood lumber from Canada injure U.S. producers, virtually ensuring that hefty duties on imports of the building material will remain in place for five years.

Canada has already challenged the US lumber tariffs through two worldwide dispute-settlement procedures, calling the duties "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling".

Both the Window and Door Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Home Builders have urged the US and Canada to negotiate an end to the softwood lumber dispute, which has the potential to increase the cost of housing, as well as the price of moulding and millwork products.

The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land.

Canada has said the tariffs were determined using flawed methodology.

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

"The fact is, there is no injury to USA producers and we are fully prepared to fight this egregious decision".

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"Now, with a level playing field, the US lumber industry, and the 350,000 hardworking men and women who support it, can have the chance to compete fairly", said Jason Brochu, co-chair of the US Lumber Coalition.

The complaints led to the current duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce last spring and verified in November.

Freeland noted that Canada has already filed legal challenges with WTO and under the NAFTA against preliminary duties that the U.S. began collecting last spring.

The 4-0 decision comes after the US Commerce Department failed to reach an agreement in the long-running trade dispute last month. Last week, Canada filed a case at the World Trade Organization in response to Commerce's decision to levy the tariffs. "It is noteworthy that in both Lumber 3 and Lumber 4, not one of the decisions issued by the ITC survived independent appeals, before both NAFTA and WTO panels".

Mr. Verheul said this week some of the proposals put forth by the Trump administration on Nafta are "wholly unworkable".

The U.S. Lumber Coalition, which filed a petition previous year with the Commerce Department to open a case against Canada's softwood lumber industry, praised the decision. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is also facing pressure from the Trump administration on aircraft exports from Bombardier Inc. and Canadian rules that limit the import of US milk and dairy products.

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