US made softwood lumber is shown for sale in Los Angeles, California, US, April 26, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake
The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Thursday it made a final finding that exports of softwood lumber from Canada injure U.S. producers, virtually ensuring that hefty duties on imports of the building material will remain in place for five years.
The decision will impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affecting about $5.66 billion worth of lumber and comes amid increasingly acrimonious talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the trilateral trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. Lumber Coalition, an industry lobby group that petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department last year to open a dumping and subsidy investigation, lauded the decision on Thursday.
The Canadian government, which has denied the dumping and subsidy charges, last week formally opened a case against the United States at the World Trade Organization over the Commerce Department’s decision to impose the duties.
That followed the launch by Ottawa last month of a NAFTA trade challenge over the move.
The combined final duty rates on the material used widely to build homes range from about 10 percent to nearly 24 percent, below a preliminary range of about 17 percent to 31 percent.
The affected Canadian firms are West Fraser Timber Co Ltd (WFT.TO), Canfor Corp (CFP.TO), Conifex Timber Inc (CFF.TO), Western Forest Products Inc (WEF.TO), Interfor Corp (IFP.TO) and Resolute FP Canada Ltd (RFP.N).
A U.S. homebuilder group has called the ruling “shortsighted” amid concerns that it would drive up prices for consumers.
The disagreement centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land. Those fees are lower than fees paid on U.S. timber, which comes largely from private land.
The decision to impose tariffs followed failed talks to end the decades-long lumber dispute between the two countries.