Dimension lumber at Canfor sawmill in Williams Lake. (Williams Lake Tribune)

NAFTA panel upholds U.S. softwood lumber ‘injury’ complaint

Other rulings still to come, B.C. forest industry group says

A North American Free Trade Agreement panel has upheld the latest U.S. lumber industry trade complaint against Canadian softwood lumber, but there are other rounds ahead, a B.C. forest industry leader says.

In a May 22 ruling, the NAFTA panel reviewed the U.S. International Trade Commission’s determination of “injury” to U.S. lumber trade from Canadian lumber, in the latest of a decades-long series of trade and legal actions brought by U.S. forest industry representatives.

B.C. Council of Forest Industries president Susan Yurkovich, who also leads the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, said the “unsupportable decision” doesn’t change Canada’s position.

“Even with today’s decision affirming the USITC remand determination on injury, the Canadian parties still have pending World Trade Organization and NAFTA challenges to the Department of Commerce’s underlying countervailing duty and anti-dumping duty determinations that have yet to be resolved,” Yurkovich said in a statement.

“We are confident that those proceedings will yield favourable results as they have done in the past, and the duties ultimately will be ruled to be unwarranted.”

RELATED: U.S. softwood lumber dispute ‘Groundhog Day’ for B.C.

In a preliminary finding in February, the U.S. Commerce Department determined that the current countervailing and anti-dumping penalties should be reduced by half, but that isn’t expected to be final until late this summer.

B.C. is the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S., accounting for half of Canada’s sales when market conditions are normal.


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