U.S. softwood lumber duties 'crippling, devastating' says sawmill workers union
November 6, 2017 | 4:34 pm CST
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The U.S. Department of Commerce's levy of Countervailing Duties averaging 20.8 percent on Canadian softwood is 'completely unjustified and will be crippling' for Canadian forestry industry workers, says Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director.
"The U.S. Department of Commerce's announcement of final duties averaging 20.8 percent on Canadian softwood is completely unjustified and will be crippling for Canadian workers and our forestry industry if not overturned," said Neumann. "Canada must do more to protect our forest-dependent communities in the face of such baseless and illegal action."
On November 2, the Commerce Department imposed Countervailing Duties averaging 20.8 percent on most softwood exports from Canada, following a breakdown of industry negotiations by Canadian and American softwood producers, amid a contentious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
"This decision to uphold the imposition of tariffs is a major setback for the Canadian forestry sector, including tens of thousands of Canadian workers and communities with remaining mills," said Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chairperson, representing 40,000 workers across the country.
"Forestry workers and communities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec will be particularly hard hit if these unwarranted and baseless duties are allowed to stand," Matters said. "In B.C. alone, more than 100 sawmills have closed and thousands of jobs have been lost as the previous government allowed raw log exports to skyrocket. Canada cannot allow our forestry sector to be further decimated."
Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, said decisive action is needed from Canada's Liberal government, which has indicated it is considering options to try to overturn the U.S. tariffs.
"Ideally, the best solution for workers on both sides of the border is a negotiated settlement on softwood lumber and the termination of unfair duties," Hunt said. "In the absence of such a solution, Canada must state unequivocally that it will use every avenue possible – including legal action through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization – to overturn these duties which are without merit."
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