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Reduction in U.S. softwood lumber duties doesn't appease Ottawa, Queen's Park

U.S. commerce department chops tariffs from 20.23 per cent to 8.99

A reduction in duties by Washington on Canadian softwood lumber is being called a "step in the right direction" by federal International Trade Minister Marg Ng, but Ottawa is still chaffing that the U.S. government continues to impose "unwarranted and unfair" tariffs.

Ng was responding to an administrative review by the U.S. Department of Commerce that's lowering duties on Canadian lumber from 20.23 per cent to 8.99 per cent.

However, Ng expects the U.S. to comply with its obligations under the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement and World Trade Organization in dropping lumber duties, entirely.

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“These duties have caused unjustified harm to Canadian businesses and workers, as well as U.S. consumers," she said in a statement.

“We will continue to press our American counterparts to rescind this unfair and unwarranted trade action. We remain confident that a negotiated settlement is not only possible, but in the interests of both our countries.”

A joint statement issued by provincial Natural Resources Minister John Yakabuski and Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli called any U.S. duty against the lumber industry "unfair and unjustified."

"Fair and open trade is most beneficial for consumers on both sides of the border and we stand by our decision to defend the Canadian forest industry every step of the way. The rate for all companies should be zero - that's the meaning of free trade."

The ministers said they'll continue to use all avenues available to fight these duties in concert with Ottawa, other provinces and industry.