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No movement on softwood lumber negotiations with U.S.

The softwood lumber dispute continues to be raised by federal ministers in discussions with their U.S. counterparts — Creative Commons photo.

West Kootenay lumber mills will have to hurry up and wait while the federal government continues negotiations on a softwood lumber deal with the U.S.

The softwood lumber dispute continues to be raised by federal ministers in discussions with their U.S. counterparts, after the U.S. Department of Commerce’s final determination in its second administrative review regarding “countervailing and anti-dumping duties applied to Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the United States.”

The move was characterized as an unfair increase to duties on B.C. and Canadian softwood lumber, said Katrine Conroy, Kootenay West MLA and Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).

“(The) announcement by the United States to increase unfair duties on B.C. and Canadian softwood lumber is unacceptable at any time, and even more so as both countries work together to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

Although duties on Canadian softwood lumber hurt not only B.C. and Canadian businesses, they also are a tax on consumers — including home buyers in the U.S. — that makes housing less affordable for American families and threatens post-pandemic economic recovery, noted a statement from the FLNRORD. 

However, despite the duties, most Canadian and West Kootenay mills recorded record profit levels due to record setting prices in the U.S. lumber market in 2021. 

“This is not to say that the duties do not have adverse impact on B.C. manufacturers, and we will continue to work alongside the federal government to challenge these unjustified duties through the dispute settlement processes available to us,” the FLNRORD said on Thursday.
But to reach a settlement, both parties need to be prepared to negotiate, while the U.S. and, in particular, the U.S. industry has not been willing to enter discussions.

“We remain steadfast in our shared position with industry that B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant, and these duties continue to harm B.C.’s forestry sector and the thousands of hard-working families who work in the industry,” said Conroy.

“B.C. is a fair and competitive trader. We will continue to defend B.C.’s interests and stand up for the 50,000 hard-working people in our forest industry against these unwarranted duties.”

More to come …