An export expert says there may be a bit of comfort when it comes to duties being imposed on New Brunswick softwood lumber producers.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced New Brunswick would not be exempt from duties and tariffs of softwood lumber products crossing the border.
While Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador retained exempt status, some New Brunswick sawmills will be hit with close to a 21 per cent increase in costs.
Peter Hall, chief economist and vice-president of Export Development Canada, says while New Brunswickers are definitely wincing, both pricing and demand are high south of the border.
“The housing market is reviving after a very long lull and what we’re also seeing is of course a very intense rebuilding effort after the multiple category five hurricanes that hit the south coast of the U.S. earlier this fall,” said Hall.
Mike Legere, executive director of Forest NB, says while it’s business as usual for now, New Brunswick finds itself at a huge disadvantage to its neighbouring jurisdictions, especially Nova Scotia.
“That’s going to affect the ability for those mills to compete which, in turn, will translate into business decisions that will not be of benefit to the industry,” he said, with long-term decisions possibly being impacted.
“They’re concerned about whether they should make investments in their facilities to improve productivity,” Legere explained. “When there’s that much uncertainty, capital investment tends to get nervous.”
WATCH: Maine governor supports New Brunswick softwood exemption
The Gallant government has not yet commented on the situation surrounding the allegations found in reports of the Auditor General.
The government says the forest industry in New Brunswick directly accounts for 17,000 jobs and $1.7 billion to the provincial economy.