Congressional Letter Contains Inaccurate Facts Regarding Softwood Lumber Trade with Canada

CONTACT: Zoltan van Heyningen
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June 14, 2018

Congressional Letter Contains Inaccurate Facts Regarding Softwood Lumber Trade with Canada

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Members Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Brian Higgins (D-NY) penned a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer regarding the softwood lumber trade with Canada, calling for renewed negotiations with Canada for a softwood lumber trade agreement — in lieu of the current enforcement of the U.S. trade laws through countervailing and antidumping duties on imports of unfairly traded Canadian softwood lumber. The letter states that anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Canadian softwood lumber are the chief driver of current lumber prices, a claim that is inaccurate. The price of lumber, like all commodities, fluctuates due to market forces. The trade measures — imposed after a thorough year-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission — are designed merely to offset the harm done to domestic producers from imports that are sold in the United States at less than fair value or which benefit from subsidies provided through foreign government programs.

The U.S. industry stands ready to work with the Administration if and when Canada can demonstrate that it is serious about negotiations for an agreement that is based upon a clean quota that properly offsets Canadian unfair trade practices and permits the U.S. industry to continue to make necessary and appropriate capital and employment investments, and grow to its natural size without being impaired by unfair trade.

“The U.S. industry remains open to an appropriate, effective and durable U.S-Canada trade agreement on softwood lumber imports that uses a quantitative metric for Canada’s maximum participation in the U.S. market,” stated Joe Patton, U.S. Lumber Coalition Co-Chair and Vice President of Wood Products at The Westervelt Company in Alabama As of yet, the Canadian government and industry have made no indication that it is prepared to engage in meaningful discussions towards a new softwood lumber trade agreement. Thus it is Canada that must decide whether it is prepared to negotiate seriously with the United States.

“Until then, the U.S. industry fully supports the Administration’s full enforcement of the U.S. trade laws against subsidized and dumped Canadian imports,” added Jason Brochu, U.S. Lumber Coalition Co-Chair and Co-President of Pleasant River Lumber Company in Maine. “The fair chance to compete on a level playing field is of utmost importance to domestic lumber manufacturers, their workers, as well as tree farmers and landowners, and the economies of the rural communities they support across the United States,” concluded Brochu.

Additional information and background:

In November 2016, the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade Investigations or Negotiations (COALITION) petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to restore the conditions of fair trade in softwood lumber between the United States and Canada.

In November 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced its final determination that Canada subsidizes softwood lumber production and that exporters from Canada have sold softwood lumber to the United States at less than fair value, distorting the U.S. softwood lumber market to the detriment of U.S. sawmills, their employees and communities. The U.S. Lumber Coalition’s statement on the antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber products into the United States can be found here.