Minister Ng vows to end US Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber

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International Trade Minister Mary Ng said on Monday that she is committed to finding a way to end the U.S. lumber tariffs.

This comes as the U.S. Department of Commerce revealed it plans to decrease tariffs for most Canadian softwood producers but raise them for West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. WFG-T, Canada’s largest lumber company.

The Commerce Department said late on Monday that based on its preliminary assessment, the combined countervailing and anti-dumping tariffs will be 11.64 per cent for most Canadian producers, compared with 17.91 per cent currently.

Vancouver-based West Fraser is the only company that will not benefit from the lower rates, which are intended to take effect in the fall of 2022. Its duty rate is slated to increase to 13.09 per cent from the current 11.14 per cent.

The tariffs will vary for three other lumber producers besides West Fraser.

Minister Mary Ng said in a statement: “The U.S. Department of Commerce is indicating with these preliminary results that it intends to maintain its unjustified duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

“U.S. duties on Canadian softwood hurt forestry sector businesses, workers and communities across Canada. They are a tax on American consumers and reduce the affordability of housing for American homebuyers at a time when housing prices are already at record highs.

“The United States has long relied on high-quality Canadian lumber to meet its needs for housing and innovative building materials. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen record-setting softwood lumber prices and a growing demand for Canadian lumber.

“The Government of Canada will continue to stand up for Canada’s forestry sector through all available avenues, including litigation under NAFTA and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, and at the WTO.

“Canada believes a negotiated solution to this long-standing trade issue is in the best interests of both our nations, and we will continue to work closely with our industry to defend Canadian interests.”

For its part, The Ontario government has welcomed the US Department of Commerce’s preliminary decision to decrease the unwarranted duty rates on Canadian softwood lumber exports.

“We will always defend our forestry workers. Free trade is vital for the economic recovery of both Ontario and Canada,” Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, said in a joint statement.

“Ontario’s forest sector is vital to the livelihood and prosperity of our families and forest-dependant communities across the province. We will always defend our forestry workers and advocate the importance of free trade for the economic recovery of both Ontario and Canada.

Ontario welcomes the US Department of Commerce’s recent preliminary decision to decrease the unfair and unwarranted duty rates on Canadian softwood lumber exports. While this news is welcome, we will continue to stand up for our forest industry and assert that all duty rates on Canadian softwood lumber exports be removed immediately.”

“Ontario calls on the US to renew its commitment to free trade by removing these unwarranted duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports that punish consumers on both sides of the border with unnecessary costs.”

The 2006 Canada-U.S. softwood agreement expired in October 2015, with no replacement. In the latest round of the trade dispute, Canadian producers have been paying U.S. lumber duties since April 2017.

 

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