BC Lumber Trade Council applauds WTO ruling supporting Canada’s position on softwood lumber

THE BC Lumber Trade Council (BCLTC) on Monday applauded the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that vindicates Canada in its challenge to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s 2017 subsidy determination against Canadian softwood lumber products. 

After an exhaustive, two-year review of the Department of Commerce’s findings with respect to countervailing duties, the WTO panel agreed with Canada that every key finding of subsidization was without merit.  

“For more than three years, our industry has paid billions of dollars in countervailing duties that today’s decision confirmed should never have been paid in the first place” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of BCLTC.  

In its 225-page report, the WTO identified more than 40 instances where, in its own words, no ‘unbiased and objective’ investigating authority could have reached the findings that the Department of Commerce made based on the evidence before it. 

“This report is a scathing indictment of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s subsidy findings and the biased process it followed in reaching them”, Yurkovich observed. “For three decades, we have been saying that the U.S. trade remedy process is flawed. Unfortunately, this is just the latest chapter in the ongoing attack on the Canadian lumber industry. Each of the prior two lumber disputes ended with neutral, international tribunals issuing rulings that forced Commerce to rescind their flawed and unsupported subsidy findings for similar reasons. Today’s decision is an important step towards, what we expect, will be the same result. If the errors identified by the WTO Panel are properly addressed and corrected, the Department of Commerce would have no choice but to completely reject the U.S. industry’s subsidy claims and put an end to these baseless claims against Canadian producers.”

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

PREMIER John Horgan said in a statement: “We are pleased that the WTO panel ruling supports Canada’s challenge of U.S. countervailing duties on softwood lumber.

“We have continuously worked alongside the federal government on this long, difficult softwood lumber dispute. The forest sector is vital to our province’s economy and to the hard-working people whose livelihoods depend on it.

“We have always maintained that B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant. This ruling by the WTO, yet again, confirms that.

“While this decision is a victory for B.C.’s lumber producers, immediate relief is unlikely. Our work continues until we bring an end to the unfair U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports.”

MARY Ng, federal Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, in a statement said: “The Government of Canada welcomes the unanimous WTO panel ruling that U.S. countervailing duties against Canadian softwood lumber are inconsistent with the WTO obligations of the United States.

“Canada’s forestry sector supports hundreds of thousands of good, middle-class jobs for hard-working Canadians in communities across our country, and we will always stand up for them.

“Canada remains unequivocal: U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are completely unwarranted and unfair. This decision confirms that. Canada does not subsidize its softwood lumber industry, and that is why we have challenged these U.S. duties at the WTO and under the former North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Canada expects the United States to comply with its WTO obligations. U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber must not persist. They have caused unjustified harm to Canadian industry and U.S. consumers alike. U.S. homebuilders rely on Canadian lumber, and the current record-high lumber prices are hurting the economic recovery in both countries. Right now, during these difficult times, businesses and people in both our countries need support, not the burden of additional taxes.

“We will continue to work closely with the provinces and our softwood lumber industry to defend the forestry sector and its workers.”