On Friday, November 25, 2016, the US Lumber Coalition filed a petition for relief from Canadian subsidies on exports of softwood lumber to the United States. The industry group alleges that Canadian provincial governments, which own the vast bulk of Canada’s timber, provide access to loggers at a rate well below industry value. This gives the Canadian timber industry an unfair financial advantage allowing for the export of products at artificially low values.
The decades old disagreement between the two trading partners had been addressed by the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), which expired in October of 2015. After a one year “cooling off period” the US lumber industry has again taken up the torch and will proceed to address their claims of material injury to US lumber manufacturing. Should the Department of Commerce find merit to the claim, anti-dumping and countervailing duties (ADD/CVD) could be imposed as soon as early spring.
The Coalition claims that since the expiration of the SLA, imports of cheap Canadian softwood lumber have increased by over 30%. This could lead the Department of Commerce to declare “critical circumstances,” allowing the ADD/CVD cases to be implemented retroactively (90 days) once the preliminary determination of injury has been made.