B.C. forest industry celebrates lumber trade ruling against U.S.

TOM FLETCHER

The World Trade Organization has upheld Canada’s challenge to the latest round of countervailing duties on softwood lumber imports to the U.S., in what the B.C. industry organization calls a “scathing indictment” of U.S. government trade actions.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said while the decision is welcome, the decades-long dispute isn’t going away.

“While this decision is a victory for B.C.’s lumber producers, immediate relief is unlikely,” Horgan said in a statement Aug. 24. “Our work continues until we bring an end to the unfair U.S. duties on Canadian softwood exports.”

The WTO ruling identifies 40 instances where the U.S. Department of Commerce finding of subsidy was not supported by the evidence, the B.C. Lumber Trade Council said Aug. 24. Among them, the WTO trade panel upheld Canada’s arguments on log export regulation, supplying electricity to mills and the U.S. government’s use of Washington log prices to impose penalties for B.C. stumpage on Crown timber.

“For more than three years, our industry has paid billions of dollars in countervailing duties that today’s decision confirmed should never have been paid in the first place,” said Susan Yurkovich, president of the trade council.

“This report is a scathing indictment of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s subsidy findings and the biased process it followed in reaching them. Unfortunately this is just the latest chapter in the ongoing attack on the Canadian lumber industry. Each of the prior two lumber disputes ended with neutral, international tribunals issuing rulings that forced Commerce to rescind their flawed and unsupported findings for similar reasons. Today’s decision is an important step towards what we expect will be the same result.”

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