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Tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber will hurt jobs, US companies warn

Stacks of lumber are shown at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber.
Stacks of lumber are shown at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber.

The U.S. owners of three bed-frame makers and a company that transforms yellow cedar into high-end products have appealed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to be exempted from 20 per cent average countervailing duties and impending anti-dumping charges on Canadian imports.

READ MORE: Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will be ‘tough and strong’ with U.S. on softwood lumber

Without a dispensation, the companies said they would be forced to substantially raise prices, risking lower sales and job losses.

“Disruptions, even if temporary, will eliminate jobs in the U.S. and damage the financial stability of the U.S. mattress manufacturing base,” wrote Stephen McLaughlin, vice-president global sourcing for Kentucky-based Tempur-Pedic.

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Similar letters sent by other companies were posed on the Department of Commerce website.

They said U.S. lumber mills that launched the trade action against Canada support its request, but the government said it would only respond when it issues its final duty determinations in about five months.

WATCH: Latest news on the softwood lumber dispute

The mattress frame companies said the wood they need has small knots and fine grain, characteristic of softwood species grown in colder climates like Canada.

Oregon Industrial Lumber Products Inc. said it buys all its yellow cedar from British Columbia because none is produced in the U.S. besides small quantities in Alaska.

READ MORE: How will Trump’s trade tirade affect the average Canadian?

Owner Murray McDowell said companies like his will be “collateral damage” in the efforts to protect U.S. lumber producers.

“With no exclusions, we will be effectively run out of business,” he wrote.

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