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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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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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