Emerson Says Duties a Recycling of Previous Scenarios
Prince George, B.C. – The Province of BC’s special envoy on the Softwood Lumber file, David Emerson says the countervailing duties levied by the U.S. Trade and Commerce Department are a “recycling of the shakedown that the U.S. lumber industry has been empowered to undertake for multiple decades now and we are going down a path we’ve all seen before.”
The countervailing duties are similar to those levied in the past says Emerson who says Canada will have to “fight it very, very hard and aggressively through all legal means.”
The duties announced yesterday will see most companies paying about 20% on their exports to the U.S. .
British Columbia exports a little over half of the lumber it produces to the United States. Emerson says this round in the battle is different in that remanufacturers are also being hit “This is really not about Canadian Forest policy anymore. This is simply a pressure tactic by an industry that has probably never been more profitable than it is today, just wanting a little bit more on the backs of Canadian companies, Canadian workers, and U.S. consumers and homebuilders.”
Emerson called the action by the U.S both egregious and terrible “But it is what it is.”
He says he originally thought that with President Trump at the helm, this round would be different “But as I see this unfolding, it really is pretty much the same as it always was, whether it was President Bush, or President Trump or President Clinton in the old days. I think this dispute is really driven by a very small number of very influential lumber producers and timber barons in the United States who have basically captured key members of Congress, It has always been that way.”
While the large companies may be financially positioned to continue on while the legal battle unfolds, there are growing concerns about how the smaller producers and remanufacturers will manage. Emerson says the industry is very “buoyant” right now, and doesn’t expect to see any real impact on companies over the next few months “That could change drastically if market conditions change and you’ve got a number of producers who are not cash rich companies, they are small independents and many don’t have timber tenures and some of those companies are going to feel the pain rather quickly.” He adds “I think we are a ways away from seeing a blood bath in the woods.”