Canada files lumber trade challenge against US

Canada to seek NAFTA dispute resolution panel on US softwood lumber duties

Canada to seek NAFTA dispute resolution panel on US softwood lumber duties

The Canadian government filed its request for a panel review into the softwood lumber dispute on Tuesday, citing the appeal process through the North American free-trade agreement.

Industry observers say part of the reason behind the lack of progress in renegotiating NAFTA has been Canada's backing for the Chapter 19 appeal process - a position that clashes with the Trump administration's push to abolish that dispute-resolution mechanism.

The Americans unilaterally imposed the tariffs after the US and Canada could not reach a mutually agreeable settlement to the decades-long lumber dispute.

Shipping Canadian softwood south of the border is technically a bilateral matter between Canada and the United States.

"The U.S. Department of Commerce's decision on punitive countervailing and anti-dumping duties against Canada's softwood lumber producers is unfair, unwarranted, and deeply troubling", according to a statement issued Tuesday from the office of the foreign affairs minister.

Most Canadian producers will pay nearly 21 per cent in duties on any softwood exported to the U.S.

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The reduction in tariff rates came as cold comfort to Canadian producers, which had been hoping for a breakthrough softwood deal.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce sided with the American lumber industry's contention that Canadian lumber was subsidized by the government and imposed a combined tariff of 20.83 percent on imports.

Ironically, Canada filed the challenge under the NAFTA Chapter 19 dispute mechanism and in the renegotiations underway to cut a new NAFTA deal between Canada, the USA and Mexico, the US wants to eliminate Chapter 19.

The new anti-dumping rate kicked in on November 8.

The U.S. also imposed anti-dumping duties against Canadian lumber.

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