United States finds Canada lumber harms U.S. producers; duties to remain

United States finds Canada lumber harms U.S. producers; duties to remain

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.

"The U.S. Coalition's claims of injury ring particularly hollow given the extraordinary financial performance that the U.S. lumber industry is enjoying, and given that Canadian imports are at a lower level today than at the levels deemed non-injurious under both the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement and by the ITC itself in the last round of litigation".

On Nov. 28, the federal government announced that it Ottawa has requested World Trade Organization consultations with Washingto over anti-dumping and countervailing duties the U.S. Department of Commerce has set on softwood lumber imports from Canada.

American producers allege that the Canadian industry is subsidized by the provincial and federal governments, while in the US, prices are set by the market - a situation the USA contends is unfair.

A trade group for the U.S. lumber industry, one of the organisations that sought an investigation, welcomed the decision.

Freeland also warned that the duties threaten Canadian middle-class jobs, especially in rural and indigenous communities, while punishing American consumers with higher lumber prices.

The vote by four USITC commissioners was unanimous, according to the release.

The U.S. locked in final tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada, ratcheting up economic pressure with a top trading partner and showing the Trump administration's determination to punish what it sees as unfairly traded imports.

In November, the Commerce Department issued a final determination to slap hefty tariffs on exports from Canada.

The Canadian government has denied taking actions to prop up the industry to the detriment of the USA industry.

The 4-0 decision comes after the US Commerce Department failed to reach an agreement in the long-running trade dispute last month.

Protecting lumber mills is aligned with Mr. Trump's "America first" trade policy, and lawmakers from timber-growing areas of the Southeast and Pacific Northwest have made it clear they support a tough line with Canada to protect American mill workers and timberland owners.

In testimony this week before lawmakers, Canada's chief Nafta negotiator, Steve Verheul, said the softwood dispute between the US and Canada "will continue to be a hard issue" and said it is unlikely a solution will be incorporated in any renegotiated continental trade pact.

The tariffs affect Canadian softwood imports valued at nearly $5.7bn (C$7.3bn; £4.2bn) in 2016. Canadian producers paid about $500 million in deposits for the duties thus far, with more to come in 2018 if there is no settlement.

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