Chances may be improving for resolving a long-running trade dispute over pricing of Canadian softwood-lumber shipments to the U.S. The Trump administration had issued preliminary findings setting stiff tariffs. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Aug. 28 said his department was postponing final findings on tariff investigations of Canadian lumber until Nov. 14. The extension gives both sides more time to work out a deal.
Ross said, “I remain hopeful that we can reach a negotiated solution that satisfies the concerns of all parties.” He added, “This extension could provide the time needed to address the complex issues at hand and to reach an equitable and durable suspension agreement.”
Commerce issued preliminary findings on countervailing duties in April and antidumping duties in June, totaling 17.41% to 30.88%, depending on which Canadian firm produced the lumber.
National Association of Home Builders Chair Granger MacDonald welcomed Ross’s announcement. On Aug. 30, he said that, as Texas starts to repair and rebuild houses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, lumber demand is expected to rise. But Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) criticized the postponement, saying “This delay creates a window for Canadian companies to ship subsidized lumber to the U.S. without paying tariffs, inviting major harm to U.S. producers and workers.”
Canadian lumber shipments to the U.S. totaled about 30% of U.S. consumption in 2015, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.