New Brunswick softwood lumber producers, who had been exempt from U.S. tariffs in the past, will now have to pay 20.83 per cent duty, although producers in the rest of Atlantic Canada will be exempt.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said in its final determination released Thursday that most Canadian producers will pay a combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate of 20.83 per cent, down from 26.75 per cent in the preliminary determinations issued earlier this year.
Lumber products certified by the Atlantic Lumber Board as being first produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island are excluded from any duties.
Roger Melanson, New Brunswick’s minister responsible for trade, calls the decision “unfounded and unfair” for his province.
“If you look at all the facts how we manage our forestry in New Brunswick and how our softwood lumber industry in New Brunswick does business, it’s quite clear historically that this industry in New Brunswick is not subsidized,” Melanson said Thursday.
Forestry giant J.D. Irving won’t pay tariffs as high as other producers in New Brunswick. Instead they’ll have to pay 9.92 per cent.
Melanson said he’ll meet with members of the forest industry on Friday to decide how to proceed, but said joining any litigation by the federal government is a strong possibility.
He said New Brunswick needs to get the facts in front of the World Trade Organization or a NAFTA panel.
“We need to have … independent eyes on the softwood lumber issue in dispute here. Historically when that has happened it has always been a ruling in favour of what we know as factual in the province that we don’t subsidize this industry and we need to get to that status again,” Melanson said.
WATCH: Maine governor supports New Brunswick softwood exemption
Softwood lumber contributes more than $1.45 billion to the New Brunswick economy each year and employs more than 22,000 people.
The other Atlantic provinces are welcoming news that their softwood producers will be exempt.
“We are pleased the United States government has recognized the legitimacy of our long-standing exclusion,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
“While this is welcome news for Nova Scotia, we recognize that this is a difficult time for Canadian industry as a whole as many are faced with duties.”
The Newfoundland and Labrador government also issued a statement saying it is very pleased.
“Our government welcomes the elimination of the countervailing duties and potential anti-dumping charges on timber exports to the United States,” said Gerry Byrne, minister of Fisheries and Land Resources.
“Unrestricted access to these traditional markets is important for the future of our province’s lumber industry.”
The new tariffs will take effect in 45 days.
Also excluded is U.S. lumber shipped to Canada for some processing and imported back into the U.S., certain box spring kits, and box-spring frame components.
The United States imported US$5.66 billion worth of softwood lumber last year from Canada.