Canadian dollar stumbles as U.S. plans to slap tariffs on softwood lumber

25 April, 2017, 13:39 | Author: Valerie Burke

In an interview Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the tariff will be applied retroactively and imposed on Canadian exports to the USA of about $5 billion a year.

By strengthening USA trade remedy laws and cracking down on foreign companies that avoid paying duties lawfully owed, the TFTEA - if fully and effectively applied by the Administration - will help ensure that US mills and millworkers get needed relief from unfair trade, the senator said. In the 12 months through February, Canada shipped $16-billion worth of lumber south of the border. -Canada softwood lumber negotiations affecting 30 mills throughout Oregon.

Ross's announcement is the beginning of a process involving several US government agencies, which must determine that the domestic timber industry has suffered harm before the tariff can be imposed.

A detente in the trade dispute between the normally friendly neighbors expired in October, and a new agreement isn't on the horizon. The issue was revived after a mutual truce on trade litigation expired a year ago.

The Trump administration is hitting Canada with stiff tariffs of up to 24% on lumber shipped into the United States. USA lumber producers generally cut timber grown on private land. Canadian producers counter that they must pay market-based "stumpage" fees for that wood.

The U.S. government ruling reviewed submissions from major producers in Canada, three of the largest in B.C. The decision found rates of subsidization 20.26 per cent for Canfor, 19.5 per cent for Tolko and 24.12 per cent for West Fraser. A final determination could come in about 90 days.

Council President Susan Yurkovich says that American demand for lumber exceeds what the USA industry can produce and that Canadian imports don't pose a threat to US lumber producers. - Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council.

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"It has been a bad week for U.S".

"The case of softwood lumber is a flawless illustration of how protectionism generally provides benefits for a small number of people while harming a majority, and American consumers are not exempt from this logic", Moreau said.

One person in the room said Trump threatened that dairy could be next. -Canada relations and B.C. industries. Canada shipped $1-billion worth of lumber to China a year ago, an increase of 30 times since 2002.

Ottawa was quick to shoot back with a joint statement from Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said they would defend Canada's lumber industry - "including through litigation".

Regardless, the pending trade war has already had market implications.

The lumber dispute isn't new, and it's not the first the USA has imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber. "Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood lumber exports to us". That's up almost 21 per cent, year over year.

Clark says the province has already started to diversify its lumber export markets, with the USA accounting for 59 per cent of softwood exports in 2015, down from 82 per cent in 2001.

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