Government and industry figures protest U.S. duties affecting the Ontario forestry industry
TORONTO – A new chapter in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States has prompted the Ontario government to call for the immediate removal of all duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports.
Ontario’s Ministers of Natural Resources and Forestry, Graydon Smith, and Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vic Fedeli, issued a joint statement on July 28th denouncing the current U.S. trade practices as detrimental to Canadian softwood lumber producers.
Ontario’s Forestry Sector Under Pressure
The Ontario government underscores the importance of its forestry sector, attributing the generation of nearly $21 billion in annual revenue from the sale of manufactured goods and services to it. Furthermore, the industry is seen as a critical employment source, supporting more than 142,000 direct and indirect jobs.
However, since April 2017, the industry has been facing significant challenges due to U.S. duty deposits on Canadian softwood lumber exports. While a recent decision by the United States Department of Commerce (DoC) has led to a reduction in duty rates for Ontario-based companies, disappointment has been expressed regarding the continued imposition of these duties.
The Long-Running Softwood Lumber Dispute
The ongoing trade dispute over softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada dates back several decades. Central to the conflict is the U.S. contention that Canadian lumber is unfairly subsidized by the government, providing an unfair advantage to Canadian exporters. However, Canadian stakeholders vehemently disagree, maintaining that their trade practices are fair and that U.S. duties are unwarranted.
Impact on Both Sides of the Border
Despite the U.S. reliance on Ontario’s softwood lumber for high-quality building materials, the prevailing trade practices are perceived as having harmful impacts on Canadian producers. Moreover, it has been pointed out that these duties inflate costs for consumers on both sides of the border.
The Ontario government has pledged to continue defending the workers, families, and communities that depend on the forest sector. It has further vowed to oppose any trade practices that inhibit fair competition in export markets.
Smith and Fedeli’s statement concluded with a display of unity. They emphasized their commitment to work in tandem with provincial governments, the federal government, and industry leaders across the country to champion the cause of the Canadian forest industry and uphold the principles of free trade between the two nations.