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NAFTA panel orders rethink on softwood lumber duties

BIV | 8 May 2024

NAFTA panel orders rethink on softwood lumber duties

by Nelson Bennett

B.C. Forests Minister Bruce Ralston is applauding a NAFTA panel’s recent decision to order the U.S. Department of Commerce to correct errors in its setting of countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

Ever since the last softwood lumber agreement ended in 2015, Canadian lumber producers exporting to the U.S. have faced countervailing and anti dumping duties, which are subject to legal challenges revisions. As a major lumber producer and exporter, B.C. is disproportionately affected by the duties.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – which was renegotiated to become the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – has a trade resolution section, chapter 19.

A bi-national NAFTA chapter 19 panel recently ruled that the U.S. Department of Congress needs to correct errors it made in its most recent determination on duties.

"Today, a NAFTA panel has taken an important step in the right direction to correcting this by directing the U.S. Department of Commerce to review certain aspects of its determination,” Ralston said in a press release.

“This decision is good news to communities and the tens of thousands of forestry workers throughout B.C., as well as American and Canadian families. The panel decision supports what the province of British Columbia and Government of Canada have said from the start : These duties are unfair and unwarranted.

"Despite the good news that NAFTA has directed the U.S. Department of Commerce to correct errors that it made in its countervailing decision, this decision does not immediately put an end to U.S. countervailing duties on softwood lumber. The province of British Columbia will continue to take action alongside the Government of Canada and our forestry industry to vigorously fight for the removal of U.S. duties."

 source: BIV