WTO backs Canadians in softwood lumber dispute
Friday 28 Aug 2020
Canadian lumber producers cheered the latest decision Monday from the World Trade Organization on Canada's long-standing dispute with its largest trading partner over exports of softwood lumber — a finding the United States quickly denounced as unfair, biased and flawed.
The WTO dispute-resolution panel declared that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission were wrong in 2017 when they imposed countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports, having concluded that Canada's regulated forestry industry amounts to an unfair subsidy for Canadian producers.
In particular, the panel agreed with Canada's argument that Commerce made a number of errors in determining the benchmark Canadian timber prices it used to determine whether producers north of the border were paying adequate stumpage fees to the provinces.
"For more than three years, our industry has paid billions of dollars in countervailing duties that [Monday's] decision confirmed should never have been paid in the first place," B.C. Lumber Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich said in a statement. "This report is a scathing indictment of the U.S. Department of Commerce's subsidy findings and the biased process it followed in reaching them."
U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer, long a vocal critic of the WTO's dispute resolution system, had a different perspective. "This flawed report confirms what the United States has been saying for years: the WTO dispute settlement system is being used to shield non-market practices and harm U.S. interests," Lighthizer said in a statement of his own.
"The panel's findings would prevent the United States from taking legitimate action in response to Canada's pervasive subsidies for its softwood lumber industry." The 2017 flashpoint over countervailing duties was just the latest flare-up in a cross-border trade dispute that has raged between the two countries for nearly 40 years.
You can check out the WTO report here.
Further coverage on the announcement;
Source: cbc, newswire, bloomberg
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