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Return of Canadian softwood lumber tariffs seems imminent

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – A move by lobbyists representing the American lumber industry today seems to have fired up the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber trade war once again.

Reuters is reporting that A group representing lumber producers south of the border, as well as and some of its workers called on authorities to impose duties on Canadian softwood lumber today. The group petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission to impose duties to “offset the harm caused to U.S. mills, workers and communities by Canadian softwood lumber production subsidies.”

Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, who is while on a trade mission to China and Japan to promote BC lumber, released a statement today on the status of negotiations between the two countries, and in response to the U.S. lumber industry filing its petition.

“I appreciate the leadership that Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland has shown on this important issue. We will continue to work hard to make fair and predictable access to the U.S. market for British Columbia’s softwood lumber producers a key priority for Canada and the U.S.

“Forestry is a vital economic driver supporting over 140 rural communities.  While our preference remains free trade, a managed-trade agreement is preferable to litigation, which is not only costly for lumber producers and the federal and provincial governments, but also creates increased market uncertainty, harming producers on both sides of the border, and increases the costs of lumber to U.S. consumers.

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“We are disappointed that the U.S. lumber industry has petitioned its government to launch trade litigation. We encourage the U.S. government to review previous cases and determine that the U.S. industry allegations against Canada and B.C. are unfounded. If the U.S. government pursues this case despite Canada’s wins of previous cases on appeal, we are confident that, as we have in the past, we will successfully defend B.C.’s market-based forest policies.”

In another statement today, President of the BC Lumber Trade Council Susan Yurkovich said that, “The claims levelled by the U.S. lumber lobby are based on unsubstantiated arguments. Similar claims were made in the prior round of trade litigation and were ultimately rejected by independent NAFTA panels which concluded that Canadian lumber was not subsidized and did not cause injury to the U.S. industry.  With respect to this new action, we are fully prepared to defend our industry and are confident we will again prevail.”

Shane Woodford, News Director with CKNL radio in Kamloops also tweeted the following:

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With files from Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-canada-lumber-idUSKBN13K22U?il=0

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