Logs await milling at a sawmill in Prince George. (Canfor)

West Fraser well positioned to weather softwood lumber war

"We just need to focus on what we can control - we're sticking to our core operating philosophies...."

  • Jan. 24, 2018 12:00 a.m.

West Fraser’s regional manager D’Arcy Henderson says the made-in-Quesnel lumber giant is well positioned to weather the storm of the United States claim that Canadian softwood lumber imports hurt the United States lumber industry.

The U.S. Department of Commerce made recommendations regarding injury to the U.S. lumber industry on Dec. 7, 2017.

At that point, the Canadian lumber industry had wait for the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to review its recommendations.

“Low and behold, not a surprise to us – it was a predictable decision they largely adopted those recommendations, and we’re in the situation we’re in today.”

Henderson explains West Fraser and industry partners, like Tolko Industries Ltd., Canfor, Unifor and the rest of the group, as well as the government, still believe the duties are unfair and we’re taking the necessary

legal steps to dispute trade sanctions.

“Our hands are a bit tied right now.

“Our next step is just to make those preparations and wait until we have the opportunity to have the decision reviewed by the NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] panel process.

“Typically, that’s when we see a more fair resolution to these issues.”

This will not be the first Canada/U.S. softwood lumber war; in fact, there have been several.

Not one of the decisions issued by the ITC has survived an independent review of the NAFTA and WTO panels. They have all been ruled as unfair trade practices.

Henderson notes the softwood lumber market is strong today.

The regional manager says he thinks the unfair portion of this issue is the consumer or the end user of the products are the ones who will bear the burden of any extra costs associated to selling lumber into the U.S.

“Today, for West Fraser Quesnel, we have had many economic hurdles that we’ve had to struggle and work our way through in the past five to seven years or so.

“We just need to focus on what we can control – we’re sticking to our core operating philosophies and business principles and focusing on the people who work with us today and the value and success we have had in the past number of years.”

It’s really about controlling what you can control, Henderson says.

“Right now, it’s a little tough to swallow, but at the same time, to be competitive we just have to stick to our core operating philosophies.”

Just Posted

Most Read