April 19, 2024
Trade minister says US softwood lumber tariff increase 'completely unfair'

OTTAWA – The federal government is criticizing the U.S. Commerce Department over plans to raise tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng says the US has indicated it intends to raise the tariffs from 8.05 per cent to 13.86 per cent.

Ng described the move as disappointing and completely unfair.

It’s the latest in a bilateral back-and-forth that Ottawa has described as a hindrance to efforts to improve housing affordability and supply.

Last month, Ng vowed to oppose the US International Trade Commission’s decision to keep the duties in place.

She says Canada will fight the duties through every means available, including through existing trade agreements as well as litigation through the World Trade Organization and the U.S. International Trade Court.

Canada is “extremely disappointed” by the Commerce Department’s latest findings, he said. “This measure is completely inappropriate.”

At the same time, he said, the federal government is ready to negotiate a resolution to the dispute that has plagued Canada-U.S. relations for decades.

“We will continue to work closely with provinces, territories and industry to protect Canadian interests in all available ways,” Ng said.

“We are ready and willing to work toward a negotiated solution with the United States that allows the return of anticipated cross-border trade in softwood lumber.”

The BC government issued a similar statement Thursday, saying the Commerce Department’s decision was “extremely disappointing.”

“The continued application of unfair tariffs on BC softwood lumber exports to the U.S. is hurting Canadians and Americans alike,” said the joint statement from Forests Minister Bruce Ralston, Jobs Minister Brenda Bailey and several other officials.

“As we work with our industry partners to develop a trustworthy and sustainable forest industry in BC, we are continually disrupted by these tariffs, leading to higher prices and unstable markets on both sides of the border.”

Curt Niquidet, vice-president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, also responded to the potential increases in duties, saying the Commerce Department “has departed from some long-standing practices at the insistence of the U.S. industry.”

“Although these rates have not yet been finalized, they misrepresent reality: BC and Canadian producers are not subsidized and are not dumping into the US market,” the statement said. Have been.”

It said the tariffs are driving up the cost of lumber and building materials south of the border, “at a time when the lack of affordable housing is having a serious impact on families across the country.”

In October, Canada applauded a ruling by the NAFTA dispute panel that found aspects of how the US calculates duties are inconsistent with federal law.

Under the U.S. Tariff Act, the Commerce Department determines whether goods are being sold at less than fair value or whether they are benefiting from subsidies provided by foreign governments.

In Canada, timber producing provinces set so-called stumpage fees for timber harvested from Crown lands, a system under which American producers – forced to pay market rates – consider an unfair subsidy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2024.

canadian press

Source: ca.finance.yahoo.com

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