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U.S. moves forward with softwood lumber investigation

Softwood lumber seems to be heading towards a full-fledged trade war between Canada and the U.S.

The United States International Trade Commission today ruled that it feels “there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of softwood lumber products from Canada that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

As a result of the commission’s determination, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to conduct its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on softwood lumber imports, with its countervailing duty determination due on or about February 20, 2017, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination due on or about May 4, 2017. When the two countries were last without an agreement, the U.S. slapped a 15 per cent duty on softwood lumber.

B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson called the finding “unfounded” and pledged to work with Ottawa to challenge the U.S. assertions.

“These are allegations that, time after time, have been proven to be false before NAFTA and World Trade Organization tribunals,” said Thomson. “B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant. This issue can be resolved only with a fair, negotiated trade agreement with the United States, not more litigation. Despite numerous discussions during 2016 between Canada and the U.S., attempts to reach an agreement were unsuccessful.

“With forecast for continued increase in U.S. housing starts, the U.S. needs our lumber and penalties only hurt housing affordability for middle-class Americans by raising building costs. It is in the best interest of both sides to quickly come to terms on a deal and get back to focusing on growing our respective economies rather than wasting time, energy and resources in costly litigation.”

The federal government has not yet issued a statement on the U.S. ruling.

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