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Remove U.S. lumber duties, say Ontario ministers

Washington stays the course on taxing Canadian lumber imports
(Ontario Forest Industries Association Facebook photo)

The U.S. Department of Commerce has decided to maintain duties against Canadian softwood lumber imports prompting two Ontario government cabinet ministers to express their disappointment.

In a news release, Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Graydon Smith and Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Minister Vic Fedeli called on the Commerce Department to “immediately remove all duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports,” adding the government opposes any trade practices that restrict fair competition in export markets.

The protracted trade dispute shows no sign of resolution since U.S. duties were imposed on Canadian producers in April 2017. The U.S. Department of Commerce annually reviews anti-dumping and countervailing duties. The recent ruling is that most Canadian softwood lumber is subject to a 7.99 per cent tax.

The province said Ontario’s forest sector created nearly $21 billion a year in avenue from the sale of manufactured good and service. The industry directly and indirectly puts 142,000 people to work.

The ministers said the U.S. depends Ontario softwood lumber for building practices and this trade practice hurts producers and drives up the cost for consumers on both sides of the border.

“Together with provincial governments, the federal government and industry leaders across the country, we stand united to support the Canadian forest industry and free trade between our two countries.”

Federal trade minister Mary Ng is calling for an “immediate negotiated solution” to the dispute, noting that Canada is losing market share in the States as duties have lead to a bump in lumber imports from offshore suppliers.