Province and Lumber Industry Optimistic of a Win in Trade Dispute
Prince George, B.C.- While the U.S. Lumber Lobby has filed a petition calling for tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, the Province of B.C and the BC Lumber Trade Council have confidence that Canada will, once again, win the battle.
The U.S. Lumber Lobby filed a petition today, a document that is in excess of 400 pages, with the United States Department of Commerce. It will have 20 days to review the materials filed, then the United States International Trade Commission will review the documents “And we expect in the coming weeks, they will then make their determination on how to proceed” says Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, acting on behalf of Minister of Forests Steve Thomson who is in Japan on a trade mission.
Wilkinson says while it would be speculative to anticipate their conclusions, “None the less, we are prepared to stand by our forest industry which is highly competitive and thrives on a market based economy.”
It is expected the petition will claim the Canadian producers are subsidized and that they have been dumping product in the U.S.
So with the Trump administration, which has been openly hostile to trade issues, ready to move into the White House, will this litigation be tougher? Not necessarily says Susan Yurkovich, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council “I think it’s important to remember the Softwood Lumber dispute between Canada and the U.S. is a dispute that has gone on over many years, over 30 years. So this is a dispute that has been through Democratic and Republican administrations and so, yes, we do have a new President-Elect , but this isn’t something we haven’t faced with a Democratic administration as well.”
Yurkovich says it’s too early to say what the impact to the industry will be “We have to wait and see how this will play out. There’s still an opportunity to continue to have dialogue between the Government of Canada and the U.S. Trade representatives office towards achieving an agreement. we will have to see what the duties are in place before we can fully understand what the full impact to the industry is.”
The lumber landscape has changed since the Softwood Lumber Agreement was first put in place years ago. Many of the major B.C. lumber players have obtained assets in the U.S., a move Yurkovich says may be beneficial “We know a lot more about the industry in the U.S. We know about their cost structures because we have companies operating there which gives us confidence that the allegations on subsidies are just false.”
The Canadian companies with assets in the U.S. are not members of the U.S. Lumber Lobby.