Canadian Lumber | Two US senators are calling for tariff relief

(Washington) Two American elected representatives — a Republican and a Democrat — are urging Joe Biden’s administration’s “trade ambassador” to finalize a deal with Canada on softwood.

Posted at 11:23 am

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota also believe that further easing tariffs currently imposed on imports from Canada would ease inflationary pressures on the housing market.

The two senators are urging US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to sign a new softwood deal to provide long-term relief to a market where about 30% of the lumber used in the United States comes from Canada.

Mme Tai replies that the United States is open to talks, but Canada has to deal with the federal deadlock, a regime that US producers say creates a level playing field. That sentiment is at the heart of a decades-long trade dispute between the two neighbors.

Last November, the US Department of Commerce doubled tariffs on softwood to 17.9%, but earlier this year decided to lower them to 11.64%.

Ottawa sets stock fees for timber harvested on federal and provincial lands. Forced to pay market prices, US producers have long argued that this is an unfair subsidy.

Even lower tariffs on Canadian softwood “would make homebuilding and homeownership more affordable for communities across the country,” Senators Menendez and Sen. Thune wrote Monday in a letter to Mme Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Lumber prices have more than doubled since the last softwood deal between the two countries expired in 2015, they write.

Eliminating inefficiencies in the lumber trade would help ease unnecessary financial pressures on the US housing market, the senators argue. We urge the US Trade Representative to prioritize a new softwood deal between the United States and Canada. »

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