World Trade Organization backs Canada in US softwood dispute
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favour of Canada in its challenge of the United States Department of Commerce’s 2017 subsidy determination against Canadian softwood lumber products.
After a two-year review of the US Department of Commerce's findings with respect to countervailing duties, the WTO panel agreed with Canada that every key finding of subsidisation was without merit. The 225-page WTO report identifies 40 instances where the US Department of Commerce's finding of subsidy was not supported by the evidence.
“For more than three years, our industry has paid billions of dollars in countervailing duties that today’s decision confirmed should never have been paid in the first place” said Susan Yurkovich, President and Chief Executive Officer of the BC Lumber Trade Council.
“This report is a scathing indictment of the US Department of Commerce’s subsidy findings and the biased process it followed in reaching them,” observed Yurkovich. “For three decades, we have been saying that the US trade remedy process is flawed. Unfortunately, this is just the latest chapter in the ongoing attack on the Canadian lumber industry. Each of the prior two lumber disputes ended with neutral, international tribunals issuing rulings that forced Commerce to rescind their flawed and unsupported subsidy findings for similar reasons. Today’s decision is an important step towards, what we expect, will be the same result. If the errors identified by the WTO Panel are properly addressed and corrected, the Department of Commerce would have no choice but to completely reject the US industry’s subsidy claims and put an end to these baseless claims against Canadian producers.”
B.C Premier John Horgan welcomes the decision.
“We have continuously worked alongside the federal government on this long, difficult softwood lumber dispute," said Premier Horgan in an official statement. "The forest sector is vital to our province’s economy and to the hard-working people whose livelihoods depend on it. We have always maintained that B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant. This ruling by the WTO, yet again, confirms that."