The U.S. Department of Commerce has recently announced its final determination of duties of 20.83 per cent to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.
The final countervailing duty rate is 14.25 per cent (a decrease from the preliminary rate 19.88 per cent) and the final anti-dumping duty rate is 6.58 per cent (a decrease from the preliminary rate 6.87 per cent).
“It was good ato see the duty amounts reduced and the decision not to seek retroactive payments related to the countervailing duty,” said Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Affiliates – company that owns Babine and Decker Lake Forest Products.
While the U.S. Department of Commerce found that critical circumstances (significant increase in Canadian lumber exports over a given time period) did not apply in the countervailing duty case, they found that critical circumstances did apply for all companies in the anti-dumping duty case, except for Canfor.
According to Zika, high lumber prices have helped to mitigate the impact of softwood lumber duties on Hampton Affiliates’ Burns Lake mills. He does not anticipate any layoffs in the near future.
“We continue to hope for a negotiated solution between the U.S. and Canada that is fair to both sides and returns the focus to growing the market for wood products,” he said.
This week Zika is joining a B.C. delegation to China and Japan, led by minister of forests Doug Donaldson, to diversify and expand markets for B.C. wood products.
MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad said he was disappointed with the news that Canada and the U.S have not been able to reach a deal regarding softwood lumber duties.
“We have always supported fair and open trade with the United States and it is unfair and unwarranted that the U.S Lumber Coalition continues to put their financial interests over the interests of the millions of people this affects,” said Rustad.
“We support taking legal action to defend our lumber industry and we will do whatever we can to protect and support the jobs and economy in British Columbia that depend on the forestry industry,” he added.
Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said this trade action ultimately punishes American consumers.
“This trade action is being driven by the protectionist United States lumber lobby, whose sole purpose is to constrain imports of high-quality Canadian lumber and to drive up lumber prices for their own benefit,” she said. “This trade action ultimately punishes American consumers who are now paying higher prices for Canadian lumber when they buy, build or renovate their homes.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce argues that the countervailing duty is required to offset unfair subsidies that Canadian and provincial governments allegedly provide to lumber companies, while the anti-dumping duty is required to offset unfair selling practices by Canadian lumber companies that are allegedly selling lumber into the U.S. at a price below their costs or sales value in Canada.
British Columbia disagrees with this view. Premier John Horgan has re-affirmed his commitment to stand up for workers and communities.
“We will continue to fight for the 60,000 British Columbians who depend on forestry,” said Horgan. “The reduction in rates by the U.S. Department of Commerce further indicates the strength of our appeal case and strengthens our resolve to fight for B.C.”