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U.S. lobby seeks “middle ground” on Canadian lumber import dispute

U.S. lobby seeks “middle ground” on Canadian lumber import dispute

U.S. lobby seeks “middle ground” on Canadian lumber import dispute

   A lobby of U.S. lumber producers still hopes to reach “middle ground” on a smoldering dispute over Canadian softwood lumber imports.

   Since the U.S. and Canadian trade negotiators adjourned in August, the Washington-based Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports proposed a detailed plan to seek reasonable settlement to encourage free trade of lumber between both countries.

   “If the Canadian producers respond in kind, the governments of Canada and the United States should be able to work together to resolve this dispute,” said coalition chairman Rusty Wood in a statement.

   The coalition claims Canadian provincial governments subsidize their lumber production, making it more difficult for U.S. producers to compete in the North American market.

   Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department announced preliminary company-specific rates for 16 Canadian lumber companies. The coalition, however, said the preliminary determinations would not change the current level of subsidy offset. The cash deposit rates for the 16 companies will remain the same until final results are issued in May. At this time, any reduction in the duties applied to individual companies will result in an increase in the average paid by all other companies.

   The coalition cited Commerce’s preliminary rate of 12.24 percent for Canfor Corp., Canada’s largest producer and exporter of softwood lumber. This compares to the average rate being assessed on all other Canadian lumber of 18.79 percent.

   “Even though a possible reduction in the cash deposit rate for Canada’s largest producer is not welcome news, it is not especially troubling,” Wood said. “As we have maintained all along, when an average country-wide rate is calculated, it is certain that some companies are subsidized less than the average, but also that some companies are subsidized more than the average, as Commerce’s preliminary results show.”

   The coalition estimates the average rate on all other Canadian entries will increase from 18.79 to about 19.7 percent on the basis of Canfer’s reduction alone.

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