Canada criticizes U.S. lumber duties put in place on Wednesday

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Wednesday criticized the United States for a decision to impose duties on certain softwood lumber exports and underlined its determination to fight the move.

The duties, which went into effect on Wednesday, are "unfair, unwarranted and troubling," Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

Ottawa has already launched challenges against the duties - which range from about 10 percent to nearly 24 percent, below a preliminary range of about 17 percent to 31 percent - with the World Trade Organization and through NAFTA.

The U.S. Commerce Department's decision will impose anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affecting about $5.66 billion worth of lumber and comes amid increasingly acrimonious talks on renegotiating NAFTA, the trilateral trade pact between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Joe Patton, U.S. Lumber Coalition Co‐Chair and Vice President of Wood Products at The Westervelt Company, defended the duties.

"These duties are a fair enforcement of U.S. trade law. For decades, the Canadian government has abused the law and provided massive subsidies to its lumber industry, harming U.S. producers and workers,” he said on Wednesday.

The decision to impose tariffs followed failed talks to end the decades-long dispute between the two countries. The row centers on the fees paid by Canadian lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land. Those fees are lower than fees paid on U.S. timber, which comes largely from private land.

The U.S. Commerce Department accuses Canada of unfairly subsidizing and dumping softwood lumber, which is commonly used in the construction of homes. Canada denies it is dumping the lumber.

The US Dept of Commerce was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; writing by Sue Thomas; Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jim Finkle)

01/03/2018 12:02

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