British Columbia to fight softwood lumber duties

John Horgan

PREMIER John Horgan re-affirmed his commitment on Thursday to stand-up for British Columbia workers, families and communities in light of the latest development in the softwood lumber dispute.

The United States Department of Commerce has announced its final determination of duties of 20.83% to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.

The final countervailing duty rate is 14.25% (a decrease from the preliminary rate 19.88%) and the final anti-dumping duty rate is 6.58% (a decrease from the preliminary rate 6.87%).

“We will continue to fight for the 60,000 British Columbians who depend on forestry,” said Horgan. “The forest sector is an integral part of B.C.’s sustainable economy, and we will make sure workers, families and communities have the support they need to mitigate the impact of these duties. 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.”

About half of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the United States originate from British Columbia, and the United States is British Columbia’s largest market for softwood lumber products. Over the past year, high lumber prices have helped to mitigate the impact of the softwood lumber duties on B.C. companies.

“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,” said Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council. “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. continues to attack its closest friend, neighbour and ally while domestically the U.S. lumber coalition continues to put the interest of its members ahead of what is good for the American economy and American consumers,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “The U.S. lumber industry cannot produce enough lumber to meet U.S. demand. A reliable source of softwood lumber products from B.C. and Canada will benefit the U.S. housing industry and American home-buyers.”

British Columbia will be supporting the federal government in appealing the U.S. Department of Commerce’s findings. The appeals cannot be filed until after the U.S. International Trade Commission issues its determination in December.

“The dispute with the U.S. highlights the need to grow other markets for B.C. wood products. To that end, I’m leading a forestry sector trade mission with over 35 senior forestry executives to China and Japan later this month. This mission builds on previous work done to grow these important markets,” said Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Minister Doug Donaldson. “As well, we’re also committed to expanding our innovative wood products sector and developing public sector procurement policies that prioritize the use of B.C. wood.”

British Columbia’s forest sector is an integral part of a sustainable economy. In 2016, the B.C. forest sector supported 60,000 direct jobs and one in four manufacturing jobs. The B.C. government is committed to working with communities and industry to create more B.C. jobs from every tree harvested in B.C.


BC Liberals’ Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations critic John Rustad in a statement said: “We are disappointed with the news today that Canada and U.S were unable 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.

“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. It’s unfortunate that the Premier has been misleading in his previous comments on this file, giving people hope that an easy deal was imminent and that a quick trip to Washington was all it would take to settle this once and for all.

“B.C. represents more than 50 per cent of Canadian softwood exports and we need to reassert ourselves as the true leader on this issue. The BC Liberals remain committed to fighting for our province’s forestry industry, jobs and international reputation as a world-leader in international trade.”