PREMIER Christy Clark on Tuesday, in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary countervailing duty determination to assess duty rates of approximately 20% on Canadian softwood lumber exports, said that her government “will stand up for B.C. forest workers and communities by fighting this unjustified U.S. trade action with every tool at our disposal.”
Here is her full statement:
THE United States has imposed unfair duties ranging from 19.5 to 24.1 percent on British Columbia softwood lumber exports into the United States.
In addition, they have imposed critical circumstances findings on all but the three of our largest producers, requiring all other companies to post bonds worth the value of the duty had it been in place for the past 90 days.
Despite there being no actual evidence of unfair trade practices, the U.S. is taking a ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent’ approach with the rest of our industry.
It is important to remember that in every softwood dispute, the U.S. allegations of subsidy have been proven false. We believe that will be the case in this round as well.
Now more than ever, British Columbia needs to be strong. We will stand up for B.C. forest workers and communities by fighting this unjustified U.S. trade action with every tool at our disposal.
Team Canada is strong and we will stand united in the face of this baseless U.S. trade action. Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government have been extremely responsive, putting softwood at the top of their agenda. We will continue to work side by side with them to make sure the needed supports are in place for displaced workers in the event of job impacts, and to accelerate the diversification of our forest products and markets.
In B.C., we’ve already made progress in diversifying our export markets. That’s why, since we launched the BC Jobs Plan in 2011, British Columbia has gained more forestry jobs than any other province – adding 9,825 jobs, or a gain of 17%. We recently announced a new investment of $7.7 million to promote the use of B.C. wood, advance wood building systems and products, and further expand global markets. And our election platform commits to continued investments, as well as pushing other jurisdictions to allow tall wood buildings in their building codes.
Yesterday I affirmed that we will continue to stand up for B.C. and implement our Action Plan on softwood. We will:
- Fight the unfounded claims of the U.S. lumber production lobby and the unwarranted and unfair duties placed on Canadian lumber products;
- Use this preliminary period for B.C. and Canada to reinforce our efforts to reach a fair deal with the United States;
- Work with U.S. home builders and lumber retailers to demonstrate that Canadian softwood lumber is a critical component of continued U.S. economic growth;
- Continue to work with the federal government to ensure B.C. forest workers are supported in the event of job impacts; and
- Accelerate our proven actions to diversify our markets and products to further reduce our reliance on the United States – having already increased our softwood lumber exports to China by close to 2,000% per cent, with strong progress in other Asian markets.
“As the trade action develops, we are going to work to ensure that B.C. mills can stay open despite the impact of U.S. protectionist and punitive measures by:
- Pre-purchasing B.C. lumber that could be used for BC Housing projects and ensuring B.C. mills continue to have a strong domestic market.
- Immediately following the election, initiating additional trade missions to India, China, Japan and other Asian countries.
- Contributing an additional $5 million in Forest Innovation Investment, bringing our total new investment to $10 million, to further expand business opportunities for B.C. companies in China and India.
- Accelerating the elimination of the Provincial Sales Tax on electricity for the forest industry, and maintaining our commitment to freeze the carbon tax.
- As we’ve announced, BC will establish a permanent trade office in Washington, D.C. and significantly increase our presence in addition to David Emerson’s role as special envoy.
- And we will explore any additional levers at our disposal to secure a deal that’s fair for B.C.
We’re also building on strength to make our communities resilient in the face of the challenges to come. The Rural Dividend Fund, expanded to $100 million and four years in Budget 2017, has already benefited more than 300 local governments, First Nations, and community groups. Community Transition Teams are set up to support workers in need in forestry-dependent communities, connecting people with training and employment services.
It’s going to be a battle, but we’ll succeed because everyday Americans want the same things we do – housing that’s affordable and jobs to build those homes. And because every time these U.S. industry allegations are tested in an impartial court, they lose – because the facts are on our side.