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New duties push softwood lumber industry closer to crisis: Unifor

June 27, 2017 - The re-introduction of a second tariff on Canadian softwood lumber exports pushes the industry closer to crisis, says Unifor.


June 27, 2017
By Unifor

“These tariffs are a slap in the face to the concept of fair trade,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “It’s President Trump’s gift to U.S. landowners and hundreds of Canadian communities will pay the price.”

The anti-dumping duty announced today by the U.S. government will add to the countervailing duties announced in April 2017. The combined duties on Canadian exports could reach as high at 31 per cent. Conservative estimates suggest that sustained 25 per cent combined duties could yield a loss of 25,000 jobs.

Unifor says that the $867-million forestry industry aid package announced by the Canadian government in May will help cushion the blow, but it is not a long-term solution.

“Our forestry industry needs a new softwood agreement that defends good jobs and strengthens Canadian competitiveness,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “It’s very unlikely these tariffs will stand up to legal scrutiny, so Canada should bargain from a position of strength.”

In 2002 the U.S. government imposed similar tariffs, but international trade tribunals have consistently over-ruled American duties on Canadian lumber. While Unifor is confident that the new U.S. duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.

Unifor welcomes partial Atlantic exclusion from softwood duties
Forestry workers welcomed the news that the U.S. is dropping Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia from the Commerce Department’s tariff investigations.

“The ad hoc exclusion of three provinces from duties confirms what we’ve stated all along: there is no legal basis for duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President. “This hardship can be avoided—the federal government must get to a negotiated solution as soon as possible.”

The U.S. Commerce Department posted a notice online today stating that the three provinces do not require further investigation for anti-dumping or countervailing duties on softwood lumber exports.

Unifor asserts that any duties on softwood exports are unwarranted and will cause job loss in one of Canada’s largest industries. The forestry industry employs more than 200,000 workers in Canada in 650 communities across the country.

“This announcement shows that the U.S. didn’t do their homework before imposing duties in April,” said Doherty. “The U.S. case against the remaining provinces is also weak. Unifor will continue to fight for Canadian forestry workers.”

Unifor has nearly 24,000 forestry members at 134 employers in every region of Canada. It is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.