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US to reduce tariffs on most softwood producers, raise them for West Fraser


February 1, 2022
By Maria Church
Photo: Annex Business Media.

With its latest preliminary review on Canadian softwood lumber shipments, the U.S. Department of Commerce is indicating it will reduce tariffs for most Canadian producers but increase them for B.C.-based West Fraser.

The department announced yesterday the combined countervailing and anti-dumping duties for most lumber companies will be reduced from 17.91 per cent to 11.64 per cent. West Fraser’s new rate will be 13.09 per cent, a bump up from its current 11.14 per cent.

Resolute Forest Products, Canfor and J.D. Irving will all see their rates lowered:

  • West Fraser: 13.09%, up from 11.14%
  • Resolute Forest Products: 20.24%, down from 29.66%
  • Canfor: 6.75%, down from 19.54
  • J.D. Irving: 7.09%, down from 15.05%
  • Others: 11.64%, down from 17.91%

The rate changes will take place following the U.S. department’s issuing of final results, expected in June.

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Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng expressed support for the lumber industry in a statement issued yesterday. “The Government of Canada will continue to stand up for Canada’s forestry sector through all available avenues, including litigation under NAFTA and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, and at the WTO.”

Ng said the duties hurt Canadian businesses and communities, but also U.S. customers.

“The United States has long relied on high-quality Canadian lumber to meet its needs for housing and innovative building materials. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen record-setting softwood lumber prices and a growing demand for Canadian lumber,” she said.

Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, welcomed news of the duties reduction and pushed for a new Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement that would eliminate them entirely.

“Reducing these tariffs is an important step forward to addressing America’s growing housing affordability crisis and easing extreme price swings in the lumber market that have added more than $18,600 to the price of a new home since late summer,” Fowke said in a statement.

In a statement yesterday, the U.S. Lumber Coalition noted the U.S. industry’s “robust” sawmill investment and capacity expansion since the initial duties in 2016. “The U.S. industry appears on track to have produced an additional 17.5 billion board feet of lumber through 2021, averaging 3.5 billion a year.”