U.S. panel ruling on softwood lumber “completely without merit”

Yurkovich: B.C. lumber producers will appeal ruling and vigorously defend industry

  • Jan. 13, 2018 12:00 a.m.

From his Quesnel office on Jan. 9, Tom Hoffman, External and Stakeholder Relations manager for Tolko Industries, said Tolko aligns itself with the B.C. Lumber Trade Council (BCLTC) and all of the releases it isues on the softwood lumber dispute.

He added Tolko is a member of BCLTC and is “very much aligned with what they are saying.”

Regarding how the United States’ recent decision will affect the Tolko assets in Quesnel, Hoffman said, “It is yet to be determined.”

BCLTC president Susan Yurkovich says the affirmative injury decision issued on Dec. 7 by the United States International Trade Commission [ITC] on Canadian softwood lumber is without merit.

“The ruling today, while not unexpected, is completely without merit. The ITC finding of ‘injury’, despite the current record-setting profitability of the U.S. lumber industry, makes it very clear that this was not an objective evaluation of the facts.”

There can be no doubt that this process is biased in favour of the U.S. industry, Yurkovich adds.

“To our knowledge, the ITC has never before reached an affirmative decision of injury when an industry was enjoying the most profitable period in its history, which is the case today for the U.S. lumber industry.”

The fact is, there is no injury to U.S. producers, the BCLTC president says, and they are prepared to fight the decision.

“We will initiate appeals as soon as possible and, working with both federal and provincial governments, we are confident the ITC decision will be overturned.”

It is noteworthy that in both Lumber 3 and Lumber 4, not one of the decisions issued by the ITC survived independent appeals, before both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) panels, she explains.

“We are confident that this latest decision by the ITC will again be reversed. The U.S. Coalition’s claims of injury ring particularly hollow given the extraordinary financial performance the U.S. lumber industry is enjoying, and given that Canadian imports are at a lower level today than at the levels deemed non-injurious under both the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement and by the ITC itself in the last round of litigation.”

WTO challenge

On Jan. 10, 2018, Yurkovich said B.C. lumber producers welcomed the government of Canada’s efforts to vigorously defend Canada’s interests in trade relations with the U.S.

In particular, the federal government has requested the World Trade Organization (WTO) examine the use of certain systemic trade practices that violate international trade law, she adds.

For decades, the Canadian lumber industry has been subject to unfair and unwarranted duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and has filed appeals under the NAFTA and WTO agreements, Yurkovich notes.

“We know that when unbiased entities review these unfair trade practices, they have found in Canada’s favour.

“Canada and the U.S. enjoy one of the most productive trading relationships in the world. However, this relationship depends on fair process and practices.

“As such, B.C. Lumber Trade Council fully supports the government of Canada’s efforts to have the WTO review these trade practices.”

Fast facts

• B.C. is the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the U.S.

• The B.C. forest industry is a major contributor to the provincial economy and supports approximately 145,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.

• The B.C. Lumber Trade Council is the voice on trade matters for companies in British Columbia representing the majority of B.C. lumber production.

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