The U.S. has launched its fifth trade action against Canadian lumber, arguing that Crown land stumpage is a subsidy for B.C. producers especially. (Black Press files)

The U.S. has launched its fifth trade action against Canadian lumber, arguing that Crown land stumpage is a subsidy for B.C. producers especially. (Black Press files)

Lumber fight requires unity

B.C. politicians must come together to address softwood lumber levies from the U.S.

  • Apr. 26, 2017 2:00 p.m.

We’re quickly learning that Donald Trump’s bite may actually be worse than his bark.

Going beyond his protectionist rhetoric, the U.S. president’s government has imposed duties of about 20 per cent on Canadian lumber exports.

The U.S. Department of Commerce says the duty is needed to offset what it considers are unfair subsidies provincial governments allegedly provide to lumber companies. Preliminary duties of 19.5 per cent exist for Tolko Industries, one of the North Okanagan’s largest employers.

But while there’s a new administration in the White House, this current situation is just a repeat of an ongoing dispute over the years. And it should be pointed out that previous actions by the U.S. have been rejected by NAFTA panels.

“This new trade action is driven by the same protectionist lumber lobby in the U.S. whose sole purpose is to create artificial supply constraints on lumber and drive prices up for their benefit, at the expense of American consumers,” said Susan Yurkovich, B.C. Lumber Trade Council president.

And the reality is that while duties will have a significant impact on B.C. companies and families dependent on the forest sector, Americans will also suffer as B.C. lumber is critical to meet the demands of a growing economy south of the border.

While B.C. is in the midst of a provincial election, let’s hope all of the party leaders can put politics aside and provide a united front on U.S. duties. After all, no matter who takes power in May, their plans will depend on having this conflict resolved.

Vernon Morning Star