December 7, 2017 11:33 am
Updated: December 7, 2017 12:07 pm

U.S. trade panel rules Canadian softwood lumber harms American producers

Workers sort and move lumber at the Delta Cedar Sawmill in Delta, B.C., on Friday January 6, 2017.

The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. International Trade Commission has unanimously voted that the American lumber industry has been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports.

In a 4-0 vote, the agency sided with the U.S. lumber coalition.

The U.S. Commerce Department last month lowered preliminary duties. 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.

READ MORE: U.S. cuts softwood lumber duties on all Canadian producers – except for 2 companies

The duties have driven up the price of lumber, adding to the cost of building a home in the United States. Canadian unions and lumber companies fear the issue will eventually cause layoffs.

West Fraser Timber (TSX:WFT) pays the highest duties at 23.7 per cent. Canfor (TSX:CFP) is next at 22.13, followed by Tolko at 22.07, Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP) at 17.9 per cent and J.D. Irving at 9.92 per cent.

Reasons supporting the vote are expected to be released in two weeks.

READ MORE: Softwood exports to U.S. down but it’s not causing big financial pinch

Canada is challenging the duties under both the North American Free Trade Agreement and at the World Trade Organization. The NAFTA dispute panel has to make a ruling by next fall. The WTO process could take years.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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