New Brunswick lumber producers pleased after U.S. duty rates lowered

Andrew Cromwell  – Lumber producers in New Brunswick admit to being pleased but not totally satisfied with the lowering of softwood lumber tariffs entering the U.S.

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Commerce reduced the combined countervailing and anti-dumping duty rates from just over 20 per cent to just under nine per cent.

“It provides some relief to the New Brunswick sawmilling sector for sure in the short term,” Mike Legere, executive director of Forest NB, told Global News.

READ MORE: Canada welcomes reduced U.S. duties on softwood lumber but says ‘unfair’ fees must end

New Brunswick Lumber producers described the news of the reduced tariffs as a “significant improvement” over current duty rates.

In a news release, New Brunswick Lumber Producers says it believes the “historic” exemption for Maritime provinces from U.S. lumber duties from a few years ago should be reinstated.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Legere agrees.

“We think we have a very good case to put forward on that. We maintain that we’re open and transparent in our market… We think that given time we will see that come to fruition, we will return to our exempt status,” he said.Click to play video 'Canadian lumber shortage puts strain on building industry'1:49Canadian lumber shortage puts strain on building industryCanadian lumber shortage puts strain on building industry – Aug 28, 2020

However, just when that might happen is the million-dollar question, according to Legere.

“I don’t have a crystal ball that looks that far out,” said Legere.

“Certainly don’t look for anything within the next year, I would think. The Biden administration has got a lot of domestic issues that they’re going to want to look after first before they start tackling these trade issues.

“I think there will be… some desire to try to repair some of the trade relationships with allies, Canada being one of them, and I think New Brunswick’s exemption will figure prominently in that action.”STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE: Canada to keep fighting in softwood tariff dispute with U.S., Trudeau says

The duty that J.D. Irving companies pay has also been lowered, dropping from nine per cent to just over four per cent.

In a statement, company spokesperson Mary Keith says that is because J.D. Irving had volunteered for a full U.S. Department of Commerce investigation at the time duties were originally being assessed.

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