Softwood lumber duties confirmed

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"At the same time, the USA and Canada need to hammer out an equitable agreement to resolve this ongoing trade dispute that will provide American consumers a steady supply of lumber at a reasonable price".

The U.S. International Trade Commission, a bipartisan panel that reviews trade matters, on Thursday voted to confirm that Canadian imports do harm the U.S. lumber industry.

Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, which represents lumber producers in British Columbia, the largest Canadian exporter of softwood lumber to the USA, said the ruling by the commission "is completely without merit".

"The evidence presented to the ITC was clear - the massive subsidies that the Canadian government provides to its lumber industry and the dumping of lumber products into the US market by Canadian companies cause real harm to USA producers and workers".

A trade group for the USA lumber industry, one of the organisations that sought an investigation, welcomed the decision.

"Imports of underpriced, subsidized Canadian softwood lumber have hurt American mills, millworkers and rural communities in OR and across the country", Wyden said.

The commission made the decision in a unanimous vote on December 7.

The Trump administration has repeatedly vowed to punish countries they say violate trade rules to the detriment of the United States.

Canada's softwood lumber exports to the US have fallen since the Americans first imposed new duties earlier this year, but near-record wood prices have meant there has been less pain to the industry than expected.

American producers allege that the Canadian industry is subsidized by the provincial and federal governments, while in the US, prices are set by the market - a situation the USA contends is unfair. Last week, Canada filed a case at the World Trade Organization in response to Commerce's decision to levy the tariffs. It has long argued Canadian lumber should be subject to a tariff to offset the subsidy.

About half of Canada's softwood lumber exports to the USA originate from British Columbia and the U.S.is British Columbia's largest market for softwood lumber products.

The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land.

Any lumber agreement is expected to remain outside of a final NAFTA pact.

However the value of those imports went up very slightly - 0.15 per cent - because even though less wood was shipped, each piece of lumber was worth more.

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