Canada wins trade battle; WTO says U.S.-imposed tariffs break rules
August 24, 2020 | 11:22 am CDT
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that U.S.-imposed duties on Canadian softwood lumber breaks global trading rules.
The three-person panel said that Washington failed to show that many prices paid by Canadian firms for timber on government-owned lands were unnaturally low.
The Trump administration imposed tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber of up to 24 percent in 2017, covering more than $5.6 billion in goods. Canada retaliated by taking the case to the WTO, which ruled in favor of the U.S.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer harshly criticized the recent ruling, Reuters reported.
"This flawed report confirms what the United States has been saying for years: the WTO dispute settlement system is being used to shield non-market practices and harm U.S. interests."
The ruling, concerning subsidies, was made by a different panel than the one who ruled in favor of the U.S.
President Trump has also condemned the WTO in the past, calling it a "broken" institution. 
The U.S. has longstanding concerns about unfairly dumped and subsidized imports of softwood lumber products from Canada. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) found, for the third time in three decades, that Canadian producers are dumping softwood lumber in the U.S. market and causing material injury to U.S. softwood lumber producers. 
The softwood lumber industry is a vital part of the U.S. economy.  There are thousands of sawmills throughout the United States, the majority of which are small, local mills. In 2016, the U.S. softwood lumber industry employed more than 18,000 workers across 30 states and shipped approximately $7.12 billion of softwood lumber products.  Imports of softwood lumber products from Canada in 2016 totaled $5.78 billion. 

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]