Tolko’s Soda Creek sawmill at Williams Lake is one of many in B.C. that have reduced production or shut down in the past year. (Black Press files)

Cold comfort from U.S. softwood lumber decision, B.C. industry says

Canadian producers keep paying in ‘Groundhog Day’ dispute

A preliminary decision to reduce steep border tariffs on Canadian lumber imports is a step in the right direction, but a long way from relief for the struggling B.C. industry, the B.C. Council of Forest Industries says.

A preliminary finding by the U.S. Commerce Department on the long-running trade dispute could cut the border duties by half, but that won’t be clear until a final adjudication in August, COFI president Susan Yurkovich said Wednesday.

And the ruling is for “administrative review one,” a period ending in 2019 when the North American lumber industry was making its highest returns ever. “Administrative review two” began on Jan. 1, and could result in further penalties on Canada’s producers.

“It’s Groundhog Day,” Yurkovich said of the continuing claims of “dumping” and “injury” coming from U.S. producers. “We continue to keep fighting but it’s a very long process and it doesn’t provide immediate relief to our industry.”

The heaviest import duties fall on B.C.-based companies, with West Fraser facing a total of more than 23 per cent. Tolko is penalized 22 per cent and Canfor duties total more than 20 per cent, combining countervailing and anti-dumping penalties.

The latest finding has one glimmer of hope for B.C., Yurkovich said.

“The one positive is that they’re finally starting to recognize that there might be a difference for beetle-killed wood,” she said. “They had never recognized that before and they didn’t include any provision for that.”

The U.S. Lumber Coalition issued a statement indicating it is undeterred by the preliminary finding, and applauding the continued investigation.

“The U.S. softwood lumber industry is pleased that the U.S. government is fully enforcing our trade laws,” said Jason Brochu, co-chair of the U.S. coalition. “Canada’s massive subsidies to their lumber industry have caused real harm to U.S. producers and workers. The U.S. lumber industry will continue to push for the full enforcement of the U.S. trade laws during this ongoing process.”

RELATED: Company shares rise on hope of reduced U.S. penalties

RELATED: Trump’s trade wars stop WTO appeals on lumber

Another decision is expected from Canada’s appeal to the World Trade Organization, which held two hearings in 2019. The WTO has ruled in Canada’s favour in previous rounds, on U.S. claims that buying Crown-owned timber represents an unfair subsidy to Canadian construction materials.

The first round was in 1982, and the fifth remains in place in 2020.

In the meantime, companies continue to pay penalties into a U.S. government fund.

“When all of the appeals are exhausted and all of the administrative reviews are completed, in theory those cash deposits are refunded to the companies,” Yurkovich said. “It’s their business strategy. Harm your competitors rather than getting more efficient or focusing on growing the market.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MISSION: Cancellations and closures

Skate park closed, waste pick up rules changed

Mission’s Hope Central in need of volunteers

People are needed to help supply and serve food to those in need

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Abbotsford Agrifair’s 2020 event still in the works

Fair will respect COVID-19 health directives, but continuing plans in hope ban will be lifted

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read