The Canadian-U.S. softwood lumber dispute reignited Friday after the U.S. Lumber Coalition said it formally petitioned the American government to impose duties against Canadian softwood lumber producers. The lobby group said it asked the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to restore the conditions of “fair trade” for softwood lumber.
The coalition alleges that provincial governments, which own most of Canada’s vast timberlands, provide trees to Canadian producers at rates far below market value, along with other subsidies. As a result, the group says Canadian lumber is being sold for less than fair value in the United States.
“The coalition’s legal action seeks for the United States to impose duties to offset the harm caused to U.S. mills, workers and communities by Canadian softwood lumber production subsidies and Canadian producers dumping the subsidized merchandise on the U.S. market,” the U.S. Lumber Coalition said in a statement.
Softwood producers in Canada dispute the U.S. Lumber Coalition’s assertions. Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products said producers in Quebec and Ontario pay market prices and should have access to free trade with the United States.
“As a matter of principle we believe very strongly — it’s not only the Resolute position but the Quebec position — that we deserve nothing less than free and unencumbered access to the U.S. market,” spokesman Seth Kursman said. The B.C. Lumber Trade Council said the claims leveled by the U.S. lumber lobby are based on unsubstantiated arguments.