The B.C. government will continue efforts to negotiate a new softwood lumber trade agreement, after the U.S. International Trade Commission upheld the U.S. industry’s claim of “injury” due to alleged unfair trade practices by Canadian producers.
The latest complaint, the fifth by the U.S. lumber industry, accuses B.C. and other provinces of “dumping” lumber below market value, and subsidies based on the price of logs on Crown land.
The finding means the U.S. could impose countervailing duties as early as February on B.C. lumber exports, which make up half of Canada’s sales to the U.S. It also means the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigation of Canada and its producers.
Forest products are part of the economy for 140 communities and provide 65,000 jobs in B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson said trade protection would increase lumber prices for U.S. builders as their housing market recovers.
“These are allegations that, time after time, have been proven to be false before NAFTA and World Trade Organization tribunals,” Thomson said in response to Friday’s ruling in the U.S. “B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant.”
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, which does not cover softwood lumber trade, and has already begun threatening steep tariffs in the vehicle assembly industry to protect domestic jobs.