COOS BAY — Last week, the United States International Trade Commission ruled that the U.S lumber industry has been materially injured by the dumping of subsidized Canadian softwood into American Markets.
Around 80 percent of U.S lumber in the market is privately owned. Whereas Canadian lumber is subsidized by the government, which allows them to flood U.S markets and undercut domestic lumber.
The 4-0 unanimous vote by the ITC will propose new duties on imported Canadian Softwood, which are likely to be incited by the end of this calendar year. This tariff will be around 20 percent of the selling price of Canadian softwood. Originally the Lumber Coalition pushing this tariff was trying for a 27 percent tax on the foreign materials.
“That 20 percent will partially offset the unfair subsidies those Canadian firms enjoy. It has the effect of leveling the playing field. It should, and will allow U.S producers to produce more lumber and have larger part of our own market,” Former Lumber Coalition director Steve Swanson said.
Last month, the U.S Department of Commerce announced its final determination that imported Canadian wood was being sold at less than fair market value, making competition difficult for U.S producers.
This is the fifth time the U.S lumber industry has brought a case against Canada and is known as Lumber Five. The Lumber Four trade case was initiated in 2001, and finally settled in 2006. The 2006 agreement lasted until October 2015. So, for the past two years there has been no trade agreement with Canada regarding Lumber.
“The previous agreement precluded the U.S from filing a trade case for 12 months. So we could not file a trade case from October 2015 to October 2016 … Now the ITC has confirmed that there is injury, so those duties are now in play and will be in play indefinitely,” Swanson said.
Oregon and Washington, being the largest producers of softwood in the U.S, have seen a lot of support from their congressmen on the issue. Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio even testified on behalf of the U.S Lumber Coalition at an ITC hearing on the issue this past September.
About last week’s ITC vote, DeFazio said, “Today’s announcement by the ITC is a clear sign that the U.S. is committed to protecting our timber jobs on the international stage. The U.S. has repeatedly tried to settle this issue with Canada at the negotiating table, but once Canada refused to meet our reasonable demands, this was the only path available to protect U.S. interests.”
Oregon alone accounts for 40,000 timber jobs in the U.S., according to the Lumber Coalition there are approximately 350,000 jobs in the U.S timber industry.
“This means we can see some price stability on our finished products. We can see an opportunity to actually increase our production here in the west. We can have a larger share of the U.S market rather than ceding that over to foreign interests. It means more jobs,” Swanson said