Canadian softwood producers brace for 2nd wave of U.S. lumber duties – Politics

Canada’s softwood lumber industry is bracing for a second wave of U.S. duties expected to come Monday that could put further pressure on producers, particularly smaller ones, to cut jobs.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced in April preliminary countervailing duties against five companies ranging between three and 24 per cent, with other producers facing a tariff of 19.88 per cent.

This time, the U.S. is expected to announce preliminary anti-dumping duties with an average rate of around 10 per cent, which would be added on to the previous levy.

Analyst Paul Quinn of RBC Capital Markets believes the U.S. will play hardball and impose high anti-dumping rates in order to push Canada to agree to a deal before negotiations on NAFTA begin in August.

“Anti-dumping (duties) is a way to scare the Canadians and try to force them to get something done,” he said from Vancouver.

A load of Softwood lumber off the line at Ledwidge Lumber Co. in Halifax. The U.S. wants to pressure Canada to come to a deal on lumber ahead of NAFTA talks. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Canada’s share of the U.S. softwood lumber market was 27 per cent in May, down from 31 per cent a year earlier, according to monthly Canadian government reports. That represented a $165-million loss in exports for the month, including $105 million in B.C. and $18 million in Quebec.

Final duty rates have been lower than preliminary tariffs in the past. But Quinn said that could change this time because the U.S. Lumber Coalition is pushing for a tough response to the Canadian government’s $867-million financial support for the industry, mainly through loans and loan guarantees.

Billions of dollars, thousands of jobs at stake

Federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said Ottawa was “very prudent” in developing the program and wouldn’t say if more industry funding will be coming in the wake of the second round of duties.

“We will react to market conditions in the reality of the moment,”…

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