Wyden applauds new tariffs on subsidized Canadian lumber

The U.S. Department of Commerce has reduced softwood lumber duties for all Canadian producers except Resolute Forest Products. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Paul Chiasson

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the USA remains committed to "free, fair and reciprocal trade with Canada", and that the decision is based on "a full and unbiased review of the facts in an open and transparent process".

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the department determined Canada is providing unfair subsidies to its producers of softwood lumber at rates from 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent and has sold softwood lumber to the United States at 3.20 percent to 8.89 percent less than fair value. To counteract unfair subsidies, countries may also introduce countervailing duties.

"The massive subsidies the Canadian government provides to their lumber industries have caused real harm to USA producers and their workers".

"The Commerce Department determined that Canadian lumber producers benefited from selling into the United States below fair value and received unfair subsidies that hurt US producers".

Canadian producers will now pay 21.83%, down from 26.75%, for lumber shipments entering the United States.

"We've said all along our (lumber) sector is based on a market economy", McNeil said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission has 45 days to issue its final determination on whether the American lumber industry suffered harm. But its demands - which range from requiring that more auto production be made in the U.S.to having more government contracts in the NAFTA bloc go to US companies - will likely be unacceptable to the U.S.' two other NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

The lumber duties are "unjust and punitive" and Canada will continue to push back against American industry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Brampton, Ontario.

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"This decision is based on a full and unbiased review of the facts in an open and transparent process that defends American workers and businesses from unfair trade practices".

"Unfortunately, for both Canadian producers and American consumers, this ongoing trade action against our industry continues to be driven by a protectionist United States lumber industry whose sole goal is to constrain the imports of high quality Canadian lumber to drive up prices for their own benefit".

McNeil said the exclusion of Nova Scotia and the other two provinces from the duty will be finalized on December 20, and at that time the duty the US had been collecting on Nova Scotia lumber will be returned to the producers.

"We will forcefully defend Canada's softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past", Freeland and Carr said. "It is nothing more than a thinly-disguised tax on American home buyers, home builders and consumers".

The final countervailing duty rate is 14.25%, decreased from the preliminary rate 19.88%, and the final anti-dumping duty rate is 6.58%, a decreased form the preliminary rate 6.78%.

Freeland and Carr said that the Canadian Government is reviewing its options, including the possibility of legal action through NAFTA and the WTO. Canadian unions and lumber companies fear the issue will eventually cause layoffs once prices and demand fall.

The United States imported $5.7 billion worth of Canadian softwood lumber in 2016, according to the department, up from $4.5 billion in 2015.

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