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Penalties go down slightly for lumber exporters in latest softwood skirmish

Penalties for lumber exporters to the US will decrease for most BC companies, after the latest round of the softwood lumber dispute.

However Bruce Ralston, provincial Minister of Forests, and Jagrup Brar, federal Minister of State for Trade, are condemning the US this week for imposing any penalties. They say they will continue to fight for a just outcome for BC’s 52,000 forestry workers.

“We strongly disagree with the United States Department of Commerce’s claims,” they say in a joint statement this week. “The federal and B.C. governments have been clear and adamant from the outset: duties on B.C. and Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. are unjustified. British Columbia’s 52,000 hard-working forest industry workers deserve better than these unwarranted barriers to their prosperity, and we will continue to fight against these duties.

“In B.C., we are building a forestry sector focused on sustainability, and we continue to provide markets around the world with the highest-quality timber. However, U.S. duties are hurting people on both sides of our shared border, increasing material costs for Americans and creating uncertainty for forestry professionals and communities here at home.

“Forestry is a foundational industry here in B.C., and we will always stand firm against any unfair actions taken against our forestry workers. This includes relentlessly pursuing our claim through all available avenues, including under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, and the World Trade Organization.

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“We continue to work with the federal government, provincial partners and our forest industry, and we are determined to see a just outcome for B.C.’s forest sector.”

BC and the United States have sparred for decades over softwood lumber. The US says Canadian lumber is unfairly subsidized and dumped into the U.S. market, and charges fees and duties in response. Penalties are set annually after the last agreement expired in 2015.

Lumber exporters will now pay rates between 7 and 10 per cent to access the US market, a decrease from last year for all companies except Canfor and West Fraser.


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