Islanders won’t feel the impact of reduced softwood lumber duties any time soon, because the US Commerce department’s preliminary decision-made last week- won’t come into affect until Dec. 7.
“We continue to pay duties at the current rate of about 30-percent until a final ruling,” says Weyerhaeuser’s Sarah Goodman from Vancouver.
“Canada can be encouraged by this, but Weyerhaeuser is looking for a long term negotiated settlement,” Ms Goodman says. “This is the fourth time Canada and the US have disputed softwood lumber tariffs. We don’t think it will be solved by litigation.”
The US imposed a 27-percent tariff on Canadian softwood lumber in May 2002. Last week’s Commerce department ruling would reduce the tariff to 13-percent.
Several trade bodies are looking at the softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the US. The World Trade Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement and International Trade Commission rule on economic and trade disputes.
In the mean time, the duty remains unchanged. “Our operations will continue to face duties of close to 30-percent,” Ms Goodman says. “We continue to live with uncertainty and added costs. However, things have improved over the last little while due to other factors.”
One thing that has made a difference for the lumber companies is the provincial stumpage charges that came into effect in March. “Things have improved since March,” Ms Goodman says.
Canada is subject to duties that other foreign producers don’t have to pay, says Ms Goodman, which leaves Canadian producers at a disadvantage.
It’s hard to say what direct impact a reduced duty would have on lumber producers in BC, says Ms Goodman, but the current duty certainly doesn’t help.
Companies in the US have until Dec. 7 to appeal the US Commerce department’s ruling.
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