Canadian Softwood Lumber Faces U.S. Duties After Vote

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U.S. government approves dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

The U.S. International Trade Commission affirmed duties on softwood lumber imported from Canada. With the vote, anti-dumping and countervailing duties were expected to go into effect late in May.

The trade panel voted 4-0 on May 2, finding that Canadian imports threaten the U.S. lumber industry. Bonds posted previously
to cover preliminary duties will be forgiven.

The commission was required to send its findings to the U.S. Department of Commerce later in May. When it received the report, Commerce was expected to issue an order imposing the duties. The duties were scheduled to take effect once published in the Federal Register, and publication was expected about May 23.

Once the duties are in effect, shippers will no longer be able to post bonds to cover them but will be required to pay cash deposits on lumber exported to the U.S.

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Earlier, Commerce slightly reduced the duties on imported Canadian softwood lumber. The agency revised its decision and lowered the duties from an average
of 29% to 27.2%.

The decision by the Commerce Department reduced the countervailing duty from 19.34% to 18.79% and the anti-dumping duty from an average 9.67% to 8.43%. The change was made because of “technical errors” in calculations, the agency said.

Last month, the Commerce Department reduced the duties to 29% as a result of other revisions to its calculations.

Canadian officials indicated they were not interested in resuming negotiations to settle the trade dispute. “We have not closed the door, but (the U.S.) must demonstrate a willingness to re-engage on a basis that is mutually acceptable,” said Martine Lagace, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

In other developments related to the trade dispute, British Columbia and Canadian leaders met to map a strategy for dealing with the duties, which already have hurt the province’s forest products industry.

Support for federal assistance for ailing lumber producers appeared to be growing. Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Natural Resources, said the government should consider loan guarantees for Canadian companies that have been hurt by the duties.