Trade Commission moving forward with potential import duties on Canadian lumber

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) will continue its investigation into antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of softwood lumber products from Canada after concluding that the country's imports harm U.S. producers.
  • A countervailing duty determination will be made around Feb. 20, and a preliminary antidumping duty determination is scheduled on or before May 4, according to Engineering News-Record.
  • The probe comes after leaders of the U.S. lumber industry called on the commission to slap import duties on Canadian softwood lumber amid claims it is subsidized and being sold in the U.S. below fair market value.

Dive Insight:

A group that includes producers Weyerhaeuser and Potlach as well as the Carpenters Industrial Council and the U.S. Lumber Coalition has said that duties are required to offset the damage caused to U.S. lumber mills by Canadian softwood subsidies and dumping of that product in the U.S.

Imports of Canadian softwood lumber in the first eight months of last year were over 33% higher than in the same period the prior year, according to a report in November.

The decision to call for the probe was sparked by a deadlock in negotiations between lumber leaders in the U.S. and Canada last summer, with the two sides unable to strike a new softwood lumber agreement following 100 days of negotiations. Discussions reached a stalemate over the U.S.'s aim to reduce Canada's market share to 22% over a four-year period.

Homebuilders have faced higher lumber costs during softwood trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada in the past. In response, the National Association of Home Builders held talks with public and private interests in Chile last fall over the possibility of upping the country’s exports of softwood and other lumber products to the U.S. Chile currently represents about 1.22% of the U.S. lumber market. The association has also said that it is seeking ways to increase the domestic harvesting of lumber.

Filed Under: Residential Building Legal/Regulation Products