B.C. forest industry says softwood scuffle isn’t over

Stacks of lumber are pictured at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
Stacks of lumber are pictured at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A group representing lumber businesses across the province is still going to put up a fight against the U.S.’s plan to implement taxes on softwood lumber despite levies being slightly reduced on Thursday.

The Council of Forest Industries (COFI) is disappointed and ready to fight.

Coverage of softwood lumber on

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Even a lower duty still hits the B.C. industry hard, president and CEO Susan Yurkovich said.

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“Uncertainty and constraining our ability to invest in our plants, our mills and equipment are two of the things that are immediate regardless of where the lumber market is at,” she said.

For the time being, she said the industry here is not at risk from the punitive measures.

“Sometimes, you know, adversity is the mother of invention – when you’re getting slammed over the head by the U.S. industry every couple of years,” Yurkovich said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Canadian softwood producers will pay a combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate of 20.83 per cent.

This is a reduction of about six per cent from a rate determined earlier this year.

The rate was dropped after Canada and the U.S. were unable to reach a long-term deal on the softwood dispute.

READ MORE: U.S. cuts softwood lumber duties on all Canadian producers — except for two companies

Yurkovich said COFI will appeal through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

B.C. Premier John Horgan said U.S. home builders aren’t to blame for the tariffs.

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He said they come down to a few greedy lumber barons in the southern U.S.

“It’s a narrow group of people that stand to personally benefit from this that leads to this debate every decade or so and that’s why we find ourselves in this position,” Horgan said.

“When you have a recalcitrant group that again are benefiting personally from putting up barriers to free trade this is the sort of situation you find yourself in.”

He said the province is looking for new markets for B.C.’s lumber while the legal battle goes on.

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