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Ottawa ready to challenge 'unjustified' U.S. duties on Canadian softwood

U.S. Commerce Department lowers duties but not enough for the feds and province
(EACOM photo)

Ottawa and Queen's Park are demanding all that U.S. softwood duties against imported Canadian wood to be repealed.

A recent administrative review of duties against Canadian producers by the U.S. Commerce Department resulted in penalties being dropped to 8.59 per cent from the current rate of 17.91 per cent.

But that still doesn't wash with senior level of government on this side of the border.

Federal International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Minister Mary Ng will challenge the ruling, calling the duties "unjustified" for the harm its caused the forestry industry and its workers.

“Canada is disappointed that the United States continues to impose unwarranted and unfair duties on Canadian softwood lumber. While the duty rates will decrease from the current levels for the majority of exporters, the only truly fair outcome would be for the United States to cease applying baseless duties to Canadian softwood lumber.”

Ng mentioned the duties also amount to a tax on U.S. consumers when it comes to housing affordability, particularly during an inflationary time when there are supply chain shortages.

“Canada intends to challenge the final results of the third administrative reviews, including through launching a dispute settlement process under Chapter 10 of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)," she said.

Echoing those statements were cabinet ministers in the Ford government.

In a news release attributed to Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith and Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli, the government said it supports the Commerce Department's decision to reduce duties, but want all duties removed.

"At a time when we are taking action to provide cost-of-living relief, softwood lumber duties punish consumers and businesses on both sides of the border – and impose added hardship on the workers, families and communities that depend on Ontario’s forest sector," the province said.

"As this trade dispute continues, we will continue to seek fair treatment of our forest sector and fair outcomes for the public and industry alike."

The government points out Ontario's forest sector generated $18 billion in revenue from the sale of forest products in 2020, and provided direct and indirect jobs for 148,000.