Rail shipment of lumber from B.C.’s Interior. (Black Press Media files)

Rail shipment of lumber from B.C.’s Interior. (Black Press Media files)

Despite shortage, U.S. moves to double some Canadian lumber duties

B.C. industry says American builders, home buyers will pay

The latest U.S. government decision to more than double countervailing and anti-dumping duties on some Canadian lumber producers is the latest setback for B.C.’s industry, the largest Canadian exporter to builders south of the border.

Friday’s preliminary ruling from the U.S. Department of Commerce doesn’t take effect until a final determination is made at the end of November, but the B.C. industry group says it is a “troubling” reversal of the last ruling that lowered duties for producers other than major lumber companies including Canfor and West Fraser.

“It is particularly egregious given lumber prices are at a record high and demand is skyrocketing in the U.S. as families across the country look to repair, remodel and build new homes,” B.C. Lumber Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich said in a statement May 21. “As U.S. producers remain unable to meet domestic demand, the ongoing actions of the industry, resulting in these unwarranted tariffs, will ultimately further hurt American consumers by adding to their costs.”

The preliminary ruling would increase duties from 8.99 per cent to 18.32 per cent for imports from companies other than Canfor, West Fraser, Resolute and J.D. Irving. Canfor faces the highest rate, 21 per cent, and West Fraser’s rate is 11.38 pending a final decision next fall.

B.C. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said the duties unfair to producers in Canada and home buyers in the U.S., especially at a time when both countries are starting to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now, more than ever, it’s essential to keep supply chains open for both sides of the border as Canada and the U.S. enter the next, post-vaccination phase of our economic recovery,” Conroy said in a statement. “We need open and stable supply chains for both countries to prosper during recovery, not trade barriers.”

With B.C. in an advisory role, the Canadian government is challenging the duties through the World Trade Organizaiton and the Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement’s dispute settlement mechanisms.

RELATED: Even at lower rate, duties unjustified, trade minister says

RELATED: U.S. can’t show harm from Canada, NAFTA panel says


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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