B.C.’s statement on softwood lumber preliminary ruling by U.S.

KATRINE Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and George Chow, Minister of State for Trade, in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s second administrative review and its preliminary determination regarding countervailing and anti-dumping duties applied to Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the U.S., said on Friday: “B.C. is frustrated and very concerned about the continued effect these unjustified punitive duties are having on our forest sector and on the families in communities throughout B.C. whose livelihoods depend on it.”

They said: “These unfair U.S. duties have been compounding the costs for construction, resulting in rising housing costs on both sides of the border. If the duties go up even more, so will the cost of housing and construction.

“Higher duties on Canadian softwood lumber not only hurt B.C. and Canadian businesses, they are a tax on consumers, including homebuyers in the U.S., that makes housing less affordable for American families and threatens post-pandemic economic recovery.

“Now, more than ever, it’s essential to keep supply chains open for both sides of the border as Canada and the U.S. enter the next, post-vaccination phase of our economic recovery. We need open and stable supply chains for both countries to prosper during recovery, not trade barriers.

“B.C. will continue to vigorously defend the 50,000 hardworking people in our forest industry against these unwarranted duties. We will continue to work alongside the federal government to challenge these unjustified duties through the World Trade Organization and Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement dispute settlement systems in the future.

“We will also continue our work in pursuing growth in markets for B.C. wood products both at home and abroad by promoting innovation and by expanding our trade relationships in global markets.”

MEANWHILE, Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, said in a statement: “We find the significant increase in today’s preliminary rates troubling. It is particularly egregious given lumber prices are at a record high and demand is skyrocketing in the U.S. as families across the country look to repair, remodel and build new homes. As U.S. producers remain unable to meet domestic demand, the ongoing actions of the industry, resulting in these unwarranted tariffs, will ultimately further hurt American consumers by adding to their costs.

“If Commerce persists with its methodology and finalizes these rates at the end of this year, U.S. lumber consumers will bear the burden of further increased lumber costs. Our strong hope is that the U.S. industry will end this decades-long litigation and instead work with us to meet demand for the low-carbon wood products the world wants, including American families. Until then, we will continue to vigorously defend our industry against these meritless allegations.

“As we have consistently said, and as has been proven time and time again in previous rounds of litigation, the Canadian lumber industry is not subsidized and continuous claims by U.S. producers are completely baseless.”

The preliminary combined “All Others” rate has been set at 18.32%, more than double the current combined “All Others” rate of 8.99%. The rates are only preliminary and will not come into effect until a final rate is issued later this year.

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 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.

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