Skip to main content

Lumber moves along a conveyor belt during processing at the West Fraser Timber Co. sawmill in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada, on Friday, June 5, 2015.

David Ryder/Bloomberg

The Canadian-U.S. softwood lumber dispute reignited Friday after the U.S. Lumber Coalition said it formally petitioned the American government to impose duties against Canadian softwood lumber producers.

The lobby group said it asked the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday to restore the conditions of "fair trade" for softwood lumber.

The coalition alleges that provincial governments, which own most of Canada's vast timberlands, provide trees to Canadian producers at rates far below market value, along with other subsidies.

Story continues below advertisement

As a result, the group says Canadian lumber is being sold for less than fair value in the United States.

Konrad Yakabuski: Trudeau will regret not nailing down softwood deal before Trump era

Analysis: What would Canada-U.S. trade relations look like without NAFTA?

Read more: Future of Canada's softwood lumber industry tied to Trump's agenda

"The coalition's legal action seeks for the United States to impose duties to offset the harm caused to U.S. mills, workers and communities by Canadian softwood lumber production subsidies and Canadian producers dumping the subsidized merchandise on the U.S. market," the U.S. Lumber Coalition said in a news release.

Softwood producers in Canada have disputed the U.S. Lumber Coalition's assertions.

Resolute Forest Products said producers in Quebec and Ontario pay market prices and should have access to free trade with the United States. A different system is used in Western Canada, which accounts for most of Canadian lumber exports to the U.S.

Story continues below advertisement

The B.C. Lumber Trade Council said Friday that independent NAFTA panels have previously concluded that Canadian lumber was not subsidized and did not harm the U.S. lumber industry.

The Canadian government anticipated Friday's filing. Alex Lawrence, a spokesman for International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Canada is prepared for any situation, and the government will "vigorously defend" the interests of Canadian workers and producers.

Still, he said the protectionist climate in the U.S. complicates any trade negotiation, including this one.

Softwood lumber is excluded from NAFTA and lumber producers in both countries continually bicker over whether the access by Canadian companies to public forests constitutes an illegal subsidy.

The 2006 softwood lumber agreement expired a year ago but a one-year standstill period kicked in to allow an attempt at resolution.

The agreement required Canadian softwood producers to pay export taxes if the price of lumber went below a certain amount. If the price of lumber was above that threshold, Canadian producers were not subject to export taxes or restrictions on how much softwood they could ship to the U.S.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies