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U.S.-Canada Lumber Trade Issue > Latest Developments

The U.S. Department of Commerce released its preliminary determination in the countervailing duty case against Canadian lumber imports April 25. This 12-page report details its findings. (in PDF file format). For more information, see the historical timeline on the U.S.-Canada Lumber Trade Dispute page. Current news may also appear on the Special Reports page.

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ITC votes to affirm lumber duties vs. Canada
In a 4-0 vote today, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that the U.S. lumber industry was injured by Canadian lumber imports. That ruling will finalize the countervailing and anti-dumping duties currently being assessed on Canadian lumber shipments to the U.S. In November, the U.S. Department of Commerce levied total CVD/AD duties of 20.83% on Canadian lumber imports. The ITC vote was conducted today, but the transmission of its decision to Commerce, which will include the rationale for its decision, will not happen until later this month. The ITC has until December 22 to submit its decision to Commerce. About 3-5 business days after the ITC submits its decision to Commerce, it will be published in the Federal Register. Commerce will then publish the final CVD/AD order, normally 3-5 business days after the ITC publication. Final duties will be assessed when the CVD/AD order is published in the Federal Register, with the duties retroactive to when the ITC decision is published. Also, Commerce has issued “ministerial error” corrections to the AD rate for Canfor and the CVD rate for West Fraser to correct arithmetic errors in the calculations. Canfor’s AD rate was lowered to 7.28% from 8.89%, and West Fraser’s CVD rate was lowered to 17.99% from 18.19%. The all-others rates were adjusted accordingly, and the CVD all-others rate is now 14.19% and the AD rate is now 6.04%. The total all-others rate drops to 20.23% from 20.83%. Canada has already announced that it plans to appeal the CVD/AD duties before NAFTA and World Trade Organization panels.

Canadian exports to U.S. down, but prices mitigating factor
Canada's softwood lumber exports to the U.S. have fallen since the Americans imposed new duties earlier this year, but thanks to near-record wood prices the industry isn't suffering much from the political trade fight. As the clock inches towards the end of 2017, it seems unlikely a new softwood agreement will be inked between Canada and the U.S. this year, but even the industry association representing most softwood producers in Canada isn't that concerned about it. For more, click here...

New Brunswick hires experts to review forestry market
The New Brunswick government will hire an expert firm to review the province's forestry market as part of its ongoing fight against softwood anti-dumping duties announced by the U.S. Commerce Department earlier this month. The province maintains the U.S. duties are "unfair trade actions" against the New Brunswick softwood lumber industry and Thursday announced the steps it's taking to protect the "very valued" industry that employs thousands. For more, click here...

Canada taking lumber dispute to WTO
The federal government is launching litigation via the World Trade Organization over anti-dumping and countervailing duties the U.S. Department of Commerce has set on softwood lumber imports from Canada. "The U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose punitive anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber producers is unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling," according to a statement issued Tuesday by Global Affairs Canada. For more, click here...

No meaningful progress in NAFTA talks
No meaningful progress is being made in NAFTA trade talks between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, increasing the odds that President Trump could withdraw from a critical 23-year-old agreement. After Round 5 of NAFTA talks ended Tuesday — only two more are scheduled — no progress has been made on divisive issues. "While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. For more, click here...

J.D. Irving cites duties for delay in mill overhaul
J.D. Irving Ltd. put a $25 million overhaul of a Doaktown, New Brunswick, sawmill on hold after this month's U.S. Commerce Department's decision on softwood lumber duties, the company says. "We have undertaken engineering for the mill expansion," JDI vice-president Mary Keith said. "Next steps are dependent on market conditions, including the resolution of the softwood lumber duty issue currently facing New Brunswick." For more, click here...

NAFTA talks resume, minus ministers
NAFTA talks are picking up on Wednesday mostly where they left off a month ago, with tension and animosity in the air. On Wednesday, Cabinet-level officials responsible for NAFTA from all three nations said they’ll skip attending the talks for the first time and leave discussions to their negotiating teams. It’s the latest sign that reaching a deal isn’t imminent. For more, click here...

Canada challenges lumber duties with appeal to NAFTA panel
Canada is turning to the North American Free Trade Agreement in its bid to stop U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber. A letter from a Canadian lawyer was hand-delivered Tuesday to the American NAFTA secretariat in Washington, requesting a panel review "in regard to the final determination of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the countervailing duty investigation of softwood lumber from Canada." For more, click here...

B.C. forests minister leads trade mission to China
B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson left today, November 10, on what is being billed as the “largest-ever” trade mission to China, with the hope of expanding B.C.’s growing share of the Chinese lumber market. Donaldson is leading a mission of 30 forest company executives to both China and Japan. From November 12 to 17 they will meet Chinese government and business leaders in Shanghai, Nanjing and Tokyo. Although he did not mention the dispute Canada is having with the U.S. over both softwood lumber duties and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s clear the mission is intended to reduce B.C.’s reliance on the U.S., which is still the largest market for Canadian wood products. For more, click here...

B.C. vows to fight softwood duties
Premier John Horgan said last week in a press conference that he will take on American “lumber barons” in the softwood lumber dispute. The United States Department of Commerce has announced its final determination of duties of 20.83% to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S. For more, click here...

New Brunswick sawmills take issue with duty ruling
New Brunswick lumber producers took issue with the U.S. Department of Commerce punitive tariffs issued last week, stating the antidumping duties set for softwood lumber "excluded all of the Atlantic Provinces except New Brunswick in its final determination of duties on softwood lumber." Under the new tariffs, New Brunswick sawmills (excluding J.D. Irving, Limited) will pay 14.25% countervailing duties - CVD - plus 6.58% in anti-dumping duties for a total of 20.83% duty. For more, click here...

B.C. Premier: Lumber dispute in "Groundhog Day loop"
The softwood lumber dispute has hit a “bit of a Groundhog Day loop,” Premier John Horgan said Thursday, as the U.S. Department of Commerce issued its final determination for punitive duties against Canadian lumber imports. Horgan said Canada and the U.S. had a narrow window to reach a trade agreement, but negotiations couldn’t get past protectionist interests in the U.S. industry. That kept the American trade litigation on track for Thursday’s decision on tariffs, which Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland promptly promised to appeal in what is now the fifth round of the long-running trade dispute. For more, click here...

Commerce levies final CVD/AD duties of 20.83%
Commerce levies final CVD/AD duties of 20.83% The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today affirmative final determinations in the countervailing and anti-dumping duty cases. Most Canadian producers will pay total duties of 20.83% on lumber shipments to the U.S. This is down from the preliminary combined rates of 26.75%. Final duties will not be collected unless/until the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) gives a positive final injury ruling. That decision is scheduled for December 18. The individual companies investigated will be assessed their own duty rates. Combined CVD/AD rates are: Canfor 22.13%; Resolute 17.90%; Tolko 22.07%; and West Fraser 23.76%. J.D. Irving was individually investigated in the CVD case and will be assessed a rate of 3.34%, which will combine with the "all-other" AD rate of 6.58% for a combined total of 9.92%. The final "all-other" CVD rate is 14.25%, and the final AD "all-other" rate is 6.58%. Commerce also announced that "critical circumstances" exist in the AD case with regards to Resolute, Tolko, West Fraser, and "all-others," but did not exist for Canfor. Consequently, those duties will be collected retroactive to late March for those companies. Commerce did not specifically address a "critical circumstances" finding in the CVD case, which is assumed those duties won’t be collected retroactively. If the ITC makes affirmative final determinations that imports of softwood lumber from Canada materially injure, or threaten material injury, to the U.S. industry, Commerce will issue CVD and AD orders. Those orders would likely be issued around December 26, or about a week after the ITC rules on December 18.

Mexican wages key to breaking NAFTA impasse?
Unifor president Jerry Dias says he and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross have agreed that combating low Mexican wages is the key to breaking the impasse at NAFTA renegotiations. Both agreed that Canada and the United States have been hurt by the siphoning off of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and must work together to pressure the country to drive up wages, Dias said Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Unifor said other key issues addressed at the meeting between Dias and Ross included the imposition of duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. Dias said they were unable to find common ground on softwood lumber and doesn't anticipate a resolution to the dispute any time soon. For more, click here...

Harper blasts Trudeau government for handling of NAFTA
Stephen Harper has come out against his successor's handling of NAFTA negotiations with the United States, with the former prime minister declaring the negotiations in real peril in a memo titled, "Napping on NAFTA." The memo was obtained by The Canadian Press and it criticizes the Trudeau government in several areas: For too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals, for insisting on negotiating alongside Mexico, and for promoting progressive priorities like labour, gender, aboriginal and environmental issues. For more, click here...

West Fraser CEO says end to softwood war not near
Canadian lumber producers may still have a long wait ahead of them if they’re hoping for a peaceful resolution to the wearisome softwood lumber dispute that has been plaguing relations between Canadians and their neighbours to the south. This, according to West Fraser Timber chief executive officer Ted Seraphim. Seraphim spoke Tuesday morning in a conference call saying the U.S. Lumber Coalition’s actions to date are damaging to U.S. homebuilders and home buyers in the long run. For more, click here...

NAFTA talks bog down, extended into 2018
No one spoke about walking away from the North American Free Trade Agreement, but such sharp differences have surfaced among negotiators that the U.S., Canada, and Mexico agreed to a kind of timeout and are extending talks well into next year. After wrapping up their latest and most contentious round of negotiations Tuesday, top trade officials from the three nations were openly critical of each other’s positions, acknowledging in a joint statement that “new proposals had created significant conceptual gaps” between them. For more, click here...

NAFTA talks reeling after aggressive U.S. proposals
After laying out the Trump administration’s most aggressive NAFTA demands to date, chief U.S. negotiator John Melle was asked on Sunday how things are progressing. “Fabulous,” he said, smiling and shrugging before entering a negotiating room once more. The fourth round of negotiations is nearing an end amid rising tensions after the U.S. presented proposals that could be politically unfeasible for Canada and Mexico. U.S. industry and Congress, meanwhile, are mounting a more vocal defense for preserving regional trade ties as they sense the discussions could be in trouble. For more, click here...

Trump threatens to terminate NAFTA
President Trump says that if Mexico, Canada and the United States can't renegotiate a trade deal, "it'll be terminated and that will be fine." Speaking to the press in the Oval Office alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump indicated that NAFTA, the three-nation trade pact, may not exist much longer. "I think Justin understands this, if we can't make a deal, it'll be terminated and that will be fine," Trump said Wednesday. "They're going to do well, we're going to do well." For more, click here...

U.S. businesses fear NAFTA doomed; Mexico warns of consequences
The most powerful U.S. business lobby accused the Trump administration of making “poison pill proposals” to sabotage NAFTA on Tuesday, as Mexico’s foreign minister said the demise of the regional trade pact would hurt bilateral cooperation. The process of renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement has turned increasingly acrimonious. Mexico accuses U.S. President Donald Trump of spoiling for a “protectionist war” with proposals aimed at balancing trade. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said on Tuesday that an end to NAFTA would mark a breaking point in U.S.-Mexican relations and affect bilateral cooperation in other areas. For more, click here...

U.S. takes tough stand on trade deficit in NAFTA talks
The Trump administration took a hard line on shrinking the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico as the third round of negotiations on rewriting the North American free-trade agreement concluded in Ottawa on Wednesday with little substantive progress. Washington's unshakeable focus on reducing its trade deficit in the NAFTA talks was immediately challenged by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her Mexican counterpart, and suggests the outcome of the negotiations is far from clear. For more, click here...

U.S. swears in new ambassador to Canada
The United States has just sworn in its next ambassador to Canada at a moment of trade tensions between the countries, with mushrooming disputes running parallel with the renegotiation of NAFTA. Kelly Knight Craft was sworn in on the same day that the U.S. Commerce Department clobbered Canada's aerospace giant Bombardier with a preliminary duty of 219%, atop recent duties on softwood lumber. For more, click here...

Canada unlikely to walk away from NAFTA talks
Despite Canada’s threats to walk away from NAFTA talks if necessary, its limited success in diversifying exports leaves the nation too reliant on U.S. markets to play hardball, government insiders and trade experts say. Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States will gather in Ottawa on Saturday for the third round of talks on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement with many tough items yet to be broached. U.S. President Donald Trump says he will ditch the pact unless major changes are made. Canadian officials last month suggested the country could walk away if the United States pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism. For more, click here...

Canada open to adding softwood lumber deal to NAFTA
Canada is prepared to pursue a permanent settlement in softwood lumber within the North American Free Trade Agreement if the U.S. lumber industry keeps blocking a deal, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. suggested Thursday. David MacNaughton expressed frustration at the industry using what is effectively its veto power to block any deal between the national governments, and he raised the possibility of working around it to achieve a long-term solution. For more, click here...

Senators testify in Canadian lumber case
Montana’s two U.S. senators testified Wednesday before a federal commission tasked with investigating Canadian lumber export practices. Sens. Steve Daines (R) and Jon Tester (D) were joined by colleagues from other western states and representatives of American timber producers at a hearing held by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), currently investigating whether Canadian softwood lumber imports have adversely affected U.S. producers. For more, click here...

Top U.S. lawmakers express confidence in NAFTA talks
Top U.S. lawmakers tasked with an oversight role in the NAFTA negotiations are expressing confidence in the state of the discussions, downplaying talk of a halting start to the process. The two highest-ranking members of the U.S. Senate finance committee legally designated with monitoring the negotiations have brushed aside reports of early bumps. The Republican chair of the committee said Tuesday he still thinks a new NAFTA is achievable this year. For more, click here...

Maine governor seeks duty exemptions for Maritimes, Quebec
Gov. Paul LePage has asked President Donald Trump's administration to exempt eastern Canadian provinces from softwood lumber tariffs that he says will lead to layoffs and shut-down operations in Maine. The Republican president has argued Canada unfairly subsidizes its softwood lumber industry, which includes spruce, pine and fir used for everything from home construction to newspapers. The Trump administration this year began collecting preliminary tariffs on imported softwood lumber from Canada. For more, click here...

West Fraser CEO more concerned with wildfires than duties
Sabre-rattling and tariffs slapped on Canadian lumber by the Trump administration are not keeping the chief executive of North America’s largest lumber company awake at night. “We’ve had duties put on us and we just reported record earnings in the second quarter,” Ted Seraphim, CEO of West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., said from the company’s head office in Vancouver last week. “So we are under no pressure to settle. In fact, U.S. duties are a minor distraction compared with forest fires," Seraphim said. For more, click here...

Canadian CEO says progress being made toward SLA
J.D. Irving CEO Jim Irving says eastern Canada and New England are coming together to work towards a resolution of the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the U.S. The Americans increased tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber to 27% in June. Irving is one of the business delegates at this week's meeting of New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in Charlottetown, and a member of a panel discussion Monday about the issue. He said the Maine Governor Paul LePage has pledged to work with his counterparts from around the region to ask U.S. President Donald Trump for tariff exemptions covering all the Atlantic provinces plus Quebec. For more, click here...

Maine governor tells Canadians Trump believes in free trade
A key ally of Donald Trump says Canadians should understand the U.S. president believes in free trade, and they shouldn't read too much into what they hear. Maine Governor Paul LePage, in Charlottetown for a meeting of Eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors, said he's spoken to Trump on the subject and he is confident any issues with NAFTA "can be fixed." For more, click here...

Commerce postpones final CVD/AD decision to November
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced late today that the final determination in the countervailing and anti-dumping duty cases against Canadian lumber imports has been postponed until no later than November 14. The final determinations had been scheduled for September 6. “I remain hopeful that we can reach a negotiated solution that satisfies the concerns of all parties,” said Secretary Ross. “This extension could provide the time needed to address the complex issues at hand and to reach an equitable and durable suspension agreement.” The preliminary CVD is no longer being assessed as of August 25. The postponement of the final determination means that the gap period when the CVD is not collected will now extend for approximately four months, or until late December or early January. The preliminary AD duty is still in place regarding Canadian lumber shipments to the U.S.

CVD gap period officially begins
The gap period when lumber shipments from Canada to the U.S. will not be assessed a countervailing duty is officially under way, and is expected to last until late October. The preliminary anti-dumping duty is still being collected. A preliminary CVD can only be collected for 120 days, and that period ended August 25. The U.S. Department of Commerce is currently scheduled to make its final determination in the CVD/AD investigations on September 6, and publicly release their findings on September 7. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will rule if Canadian lumber imports injured the U.S. industry 45 days later, or late October. If the ITC rules that the U.S. industry was injured, CVD/AD orders would be issued about a week later when it publishes in the Federal Register. At that point, the final CVD would be collected and the gap period would end. Canada has requested that the final determinations be extended by 60 days, which would push the CVD gap period into late December. As of now, Commerce officials report that they are on track to publicly issue the final CVD/AD determinations on September 7.

Canada threatens to sue U.S. if negotiations fail
Canada, the world’s largest softwood-lumber exporter, affirmed its willingness to sue the U.S. if trade talks on the homebuilding material fail. The U.S. has “mischaracterized” what Canada has proposed in terms of defined market share, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, said Thursday at a press conference in Washington. The only qualification Canada wants for defined market share is that the country can supply excess lumber to the U.S. in the event that American suppliers can’t meet domestic demand fully, he said. For more, click here...

Canada, Mexico shrug off Trump threat to blow up NAFTA
Donald Trump’s sudden threat to blow up NAFTA less than a week into its renegotiation isn’t drawing much of a response from the other North American countries, which are downplaying his remarks. Canada and Mexico say it’s a predictable event in the course of a trade negotiation. “As we said last week, trade negotiations often have moments of heated rhetoric,” said Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. This comes after the president told a partisan crowd at a rally that he doubts a deal is possible. Trump said he’ll try negotiating but will probably wind up killing NAFTA. For more, click here...

U.S. seeking big changes in NAFTA negotiations
The United States won't settle for cosmetic changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the top U.S. trade negotiator said, as negotiations to rework terms of the pact began. President Donald Trump has called the 23-year-old trade pact the "worst" in history and vowed to fix it — or withdraw from it. On the first of five days of talks, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that Trump "is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and an updating of a few chapters. We believe NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement." For more, click here...

Chapter 19 integral to NAFTA talks
A lot of Canadian softwood lumber exporters will tell you Chapter 19 is an instrumental part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Softwood lumber is the longest and bitterest of Canada-U.S. trade disputes. Small wonder then that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cautioned that removing Chapter 19 from the trade pact would be a deal breaker in the upcoming renewal talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Chapter 19 is a mechanism NAFTA members can use to review the fairness of anti-dumping and countervailing duties. The U.S. has a long history of slapping such duties on Canadian softwood lumber shipments, and Canada has taken advantage of Chapter 19 to reverse those actions. For more, click here...

Lumber talks expected to continue amid NAFTA negotiations
The United States and Canada have failed to settle a festering trade dispute on softwood lumber ahead of talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but will keep the lumber negotiations on a separate, parallel track, officials from both countries said. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had been pushing for a lumber deal before Wednesday's start to NAFTA talks to avoid complications from the decades-old dispute. But both U.S. lumber producers and Canadian officials say they are not close to completing a quota deal that would limit Canadian lumber mills to a specific percentage of the U.S. market. For more, click here...

Canadian official sees outline for new SLA
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the outlines of a deal with the United States to resolve the softwood lumber dispute are in place. But she can't predict whether the persistent trade irritant will be settled before negotiations begin on Aug. 16 to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement. "I do think an agreement which benefits both Canada and United States ... is absolutely possible and achievable and I can see the outlines of that agreement already," Freeland said Monday in a teleconference call from Manila, Philippines, where she was attending meetings with her counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "Having said that, I can't today say whether or not and when such an agreement might be achievable." For more, click here...

Report: Overseas imports impeding new SLA
Canada and the United States must chop down one big, remaining impediment to a deal on softwood lumber, and this obstacle involves wood from neither country but from other places: Germany, Sweden, Chile, Brazil and Russia, according to The Canadian Press. This irritant over distant imports is complicating the goal of a quick softwood agreement, something both North American governments say they want to achieve in order to start NAFTA talks in two weeks without a major trade irritant looming overhead. The sticking point involves third-country imports. More specifically, it’s about who gets to fill the U.S. demand for lumber in the event of a hot construction market like the present one, when American supply falls short. For more, click here...

B.C. premier says new SLA could come in August
British Columbia Premier John Horgan says Canada and the United States are close to reaching a softwood lumber trade deal that could come as early as next month. Horgan made the comments Thursday during a conference call from Washington, D.C., following two days of meetings with trade officials from President Donald Trump's administration and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. Horgan said talks between Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross are ongoing and it appears they are close to reaching a market-share agreement. For more, click here...

Senators urge quotas on Canadian lumber
Seven members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday called on the Trump administration to set quotas on Canadian softwood lumber and closely consult with Congress during negotiations of a final agreement. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) want U.S. trade officials to negotiate a "clean quota" agreement to address the softwood lumber spat with Canada. "Any long-term agreement must stop the harmful effects of subsidized and unfairly traded Canadian lumber on fair competition with the U.S. producers," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. For more, click here...

U.S. Trade Rep expected to handle NAFTA talks
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears to have lost a power struggle to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for overall management of free-trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico. The battle over control of U.S. trade policy involving two of President Donald Trump’s top cabinet secretaries comes as Canada prepares for tough negotiations to rewrite the North American free-trade agreement. In a sign that difficult talks lie ahead, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid down his first marker on Tuesday, saying Canada considers it “absolutely essential” that NAFTA retain a dispute-resolution mechanism, something the Trump administration wants to scrap. To read more, a subscription is required to The Globe and Mail, click here...

B.C. premier hints at possible quota deal with U.S.
Canada initially balked at the idea of export quotas as part of a new softwood lumber agreement with the United States, but public discussion increasingly points to quotas being part of a potential deal being discussed behind the scenes. And while quotas would have been a disadvantage to British Columbia’s forest industry previously, some analysts believe they might be more tenable now, considering limits to the province’s timber supplies. That deal to resolve the dispute, which many thought could grind on for years, might be struck before Canada, the U.S. and Mexico reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement in August. For more, click here...

Woodrow Wilson Center fellow suggests solution to lumber dispute
(Note: The opinions expressed in the following commentary are NOT those of Random Lengths. We are an independent publishing company that provides unbiased information on the U.S.-Canada lumber dispute.) With the NAFTA talks set to begin in August, the United States and Canada are seeking to clear away obstacles to a successful re-negotiation. The most vexing challenge outstanding is the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber dispute. The two countries have an ancient history in the timber realm. The “challenge” of Canadian lumber imports was first mentioned in the Continental Congress. The Aroostook War, which ended in 1842 and established the border between Maine and New Brunswick, turned on access to softwood lumber. In an opinion piece in The Hill, Eric Miller provided his take on how Canada and the U.S. can make a long-term lumber deal last. To read his commentary, click here...

B.C. premier to discuss lumber case with Commerce secretary
B.C. Premier John Horgan will meet with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce when he heads to Washington this week to make a case for a deal to resolve the softwood-lumber dispute, which threatens the province’s single-largest export to the United States. The Commerce Department confirmed that Mr. Horgan will meet with Wilbur Ross, who was appointed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s cabinet earlier this year. Mr. Horgan’s office did not say who else the Premier will meet while he’s in Washington. For more, click here...

Coalition applauds U.S. objectives in NAFTA talks
The U.S. Lumber Coalition today commented on the Trump Administration's objectives for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including the recommendation to preserve the ability of the United States to rigorously enforce its trade laws by eliminating NAFTA's Chapter 19 dispute settlement mechanism. "We applaud U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for pushing the removal of the Chapter 19 dispute panel system from NAFTA. The Chapter 19 system is unconstitutional, unworkable in practice, and for decades has seriously undermined the enforcement of U.S. law against unfair trade practices by Canada and Mexico, to the detriment of U.S. industries and workers," said U.S. Lumber Coalition spokesperson, Zoltan van Heyningen. For more, click here...

U.S. outlines objectives in NAFTA talks
The United States on Monday launched the first salvo in the renegotiation of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying its top priority for the talks was shrinking the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico. In a much-anticipated document sent to lawmakers, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he would seek to reduce the trade imbalance by improving access for U.S. goods exported to Canada and Mexico under the three-nation pact. Among the priorities, Lighthizer said the administration would seek to eliminate a trade dispute mechanism that has largely prohibited the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases against Canadian and Mexican firms. For more, click here...

Analyst: Quota-based SLA possible next month
The framework for a 10-year softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the U.S. could be reached in the coming weeks, says an industry analyst, citing discussions with unnamed trade contacts. In a report released Thursday, Hamir Patel of CIBC World Markets said a deal setting quotas on Canadian softwood exports could be acceptable to the U.S. lumber industry if Canada drops several demands. That would include withdrawing a request that New Brunswick be excluded from any softwood agreement restrictions, Patel said. "We now believe there is a greater than 50 percent probability that the two sides could announce an agreed-upon framework by the end of August," he wrote. For more, click here...

New Brunswick premier optimistic after meeting with U.S.
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant says he remains optimistic his province can be excluded from hefty duties on softwood lumber exports to the United States. Gallant met with United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. in Washington on Wednesday to discuss softwood lumber and free trade. "I argued why New Brunswick should be part of the exclusion we have enjoyed since 1982," Gallant said. For more, click here...

Quebec rep urges new SLA before NAFTA talks
Quebec's representative in the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States says that dossier needs to be settled before talks begin on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Raymond Chretien, Canada's former ambassador to the United States, says it would be difficult to have two sets of delicate negotiations going on simultaneously. Chretien called softwood lumber an "explosive" issue that is "too big, too complex and too emotional" to overlap with NAFTA talks. "We have to settle softwood before the NAFTA discussions begin," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "Is that possible? I don't know. There's not a lot of time left. We're almost in mid-July." For more, click here...

Preliminary AD in effect as of June 30
The preliminary determination in the anti-dumping duty case against Canadian lumber imports published in the Federal Register June 30. That duty, which averaged 6.87%, is now officially in effect. The four Canadian companies investigated -- Canfor, West Fraser, Tolko, and Resolute -- will begin paying anti-dumping duties as of June 30. For all other Canadian companies, the AD duty will be collected retroactively 90 days from that date. Shippers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are excluded from the duty investigations.

Coalition applauds Commerce action
The U.S. Lumber Coalition released the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce announcement of anti-dumping duties related to Canadian companies dumping Canadian softwood lumber products in the United States. The Department's decision is a preliminary finding and now the case will be subject to additional investigation before a final decision on the dumping margins is made by the Department in September. "We applaud the Department of Commerce's decision to take further action against Canada's unfair trading practices and restore fair trade for U.S. lumber producers," said U.S. Lumber Coalition spokesperson, Zoltan van Heyningen. For more, click here...

New Brunswick hoping for 'fair deal'
New Brunswick softwood lumber experts say the provincial industry is still hoping to reach a “fair deal,” despite Nova Scotia going their own way on countervailing tariff exemption negotiations. Forest NB Executive Director Mike Legere said he’s “optimistic” New Brunswick is getting the pieces into place to commence negotiations. He said it’s “essential” to get back to negotiations as soon as possible. For more, click here...

Canadian officials respond to AD duties
The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce of the imposition of preliminary anti-dumping duties on imports of certain Canadian softwood lumber products into the United States and the announcement of consultations on excluding three provinces from duties: "The Government of Canada stands firmly behind the Canadian forest industry. This innovative, environmentally responsible and globally competitive industry sustains hundreds of thousands of good middle-class jobs across our country, including in rural and Indigenous communities. We will vigorously defend Canada's softwood lumber industry, including through litigation, and we expect to prevail as we have in the past." For more, click here...

Atlantic provinces excluded from CVD, AD in preliminary evaluation
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that The U.S. Department of Commerce has concluded the preliminary evaluation regarding the exclusion of softwood lumber products produced in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, also referred to as the Atlantic Provinces. This evaluation was conducted following the request of both U.S. industry and Canadian interested provinces, and it was determined that this exclusion from Atlantic provinces should be taken into account in the softwood lumber Antidumping (AD) and Countervailing Duty (CVD) investigations. “I am pleased to announce that my staff has determined the exclusion of these products is appropriate,” said Secretary Ross. “The U.S. petitioners and other parties support this determination; it of course will be subject to further comment on the record. A final decision on the matter is expected by late summer. I remain hopeful that a negotiated settlement is both possible and in the best interests of both countries, our forestry workers, producers, and affected communities," said Secretary Ross. Commerce's preliminary determination in the anti-dumping duty case is expected later today. For more, click here...

Preliminary AD rate set at 6.87%
Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of softwood lumber from Canada. The Commerce Department determined that exporters from Canada have sold softwood lumber to the United States at 7.72% to 4.59% less than fair value based on factual evidence provided by the interested parties. Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect cash deposits from importers of softwood lumber from Canada based on these preliminary rates. These preliminary AD rates are in addition to the preliminary countervailing duty (CVD) rates that the Commerce Department assessed on softwood lumber on April 24, 2017. When combined the applicable duty rates range from 30.88% to 17.41%. For more, click here...

U.S. Trade Rep promises tougher enforcement
President Trump’s top trade negotiator outlined a tougher line on enforcing U.S. deals and told a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday that the administration has no hard deadline for completing the renegotiation of the NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico. The Senate Finance Committee hearing attracted a standing-room-only crowd as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gave his first public testimony on Trump’s promised radical shift in U.S. trade policy, a central plank of his winning presidential campaign last year. For more, click here...

Canadians optimistic about exports despite coming NAFTA clash
Canadian companies are feeling optimistic when it comes to trade, according to a new report from Export Development Canada, despite some concerns about the rise of global protectionism and ramped up anti-trade rhetoric south of the border. The Trade Confidence Index, an EDC survey released Thursday that measures Canadian exporters’ level of confidence and expectations of trade opportunities over the next six months, jumped by 1.6 points from 72.3 last autumn to 73.9. For more, click here...

Canadian envoy: New SLA 'a long way away'
Canada’s envoy to Washington says President Donald Trump’s administration is interested in a quick deal to end a softwood lumber dispute although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government sees no imminent agreement. Ambassador David MacNaughton said last week U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told him it would be good to get a softwood deal before renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, due to begin as early as August. However, MacNaughton said a deal is “a long way away” with a second round of duties on Canadian lumber expected this month. Canada Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also said a new pact on softwood -- one of the most persistent trade spats between the U.S. and its second-largest trading partner -- isn’t imminent. For more, click here...

Canadian forestry workers rally seeking new SLA
An estimated 500 forestry workers and supporters from across the Maritimes gathered in Saint John on Monday to urge the federal government to demand a softwood lumber deal with the United States "before any more jobs are lost" due to countervailing duties and pending "anti-dumping" tariffs. Their union, Unifor, held a rally at Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd. on the city's west side at 3 p.m. — one of five simultaneous events held across the country. "The federal government's recent aid package for the industry was important, but the most important outcome is a negotiated softwood lumber agreement with the U.S. that benefits Canadian communities," Jerry Dias, Unifor's national president, said in a statement. For more, click here...

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Thursday, December 14, 2017


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