The Trump administration has imposed tariffs averaging about 20% on Canadian exporters of softwood lumber. (File photo)

Trade commission backs tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled the domestic lumber industry has been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports, a decision that allows the Commerce Department to maintain tariffs.

The 4-0 vote by the commission covers more than $5 billion worth of lumber. Earlier this year,  the Trump administration announced tariffs averaging about 20% on Canadian exporters of softwood lumber. The actual fees range from 10% to 24%.

“The evidence presented to the ITC was clear - the massive subsidies that the Canadian government provides to its lumber industry and the dumping of lumber products into the U.S. market by Canadian companies cause real harm to U.S. producers and workers,” said Jason Brochu, co-chairman of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

Canadian officials have vowed to fight the decision, and recently filed a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization. Canada is also challenging the tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Granger MacDonald, chairman of the U.S.-based National Association of Home Builders, said the ITC ruling is “a protectionist measure designed to safeguard the interests of major domestic lumber producers at the expense of American consumers.”

The British Columbia Lumber Trade Council was also critical of the decision.

“The ruling today, while not unexpected, is completely without merit," Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, said in a Dec. 7 statement.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found the amount of Canadian softwood imported fell 8% through September from a year ago, but the price of lumber inched higher.

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