WATCH ABOVE: Christy Clark optimistic about U.S. softwood lumber deal
Premier Christy Clark says she will be meeting with Cabinet tomorrow, amid word the gloves have come off in the Softwood Lumber dispute wiht the U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters Monday to expect a 20 per cent tariff on softwood lumber being sold to the U.S.
Speaking with members of the U.S. conservative media, he said, “We’re going to be putting a 20 per cent tax on softwood lumber coming in — tariff on softwood coming into the United States from Canada,” according to Charlie Spiering of Breitbart Media.
TRUMP: “We’re going to be putting a 20% tax on softwood lumber coming in — tariff on softwood coming into the United States from Canada"— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) April 24, 2017
Trump told reporters, “Canada has treated us very unfairly” and also threatened a tax on Canada’s dairy industry, according to Trey Yingst of OANN.
The tariffs have been anticipated since last week when Trump launched a barrage of criticism against Canada’s dairy, energy and lumber sectors.
The expected announcement from the U.S. Commerce Department on countervailing duties — a type of import tax meant to counter a subsidized export — is just the latest in the ongoing Canada-U.S. softwood row, which stretches back to the 1980s.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, Clark called the U.S. industry’s claims “unfounded,” and vowed to fight them.
University of B.C. professor Harry Nelson says the largest forestry companies, especially those in B.C., can withstand a long dispute with several years of import tariffs on softwood.
He says they have bigger cash reserves to help weather the storm and they also have other options outside U.S. markets, such as China or India.
However, he doesn’t believe smaller mills will be as lucky.
“It will be the smaller ones. And the smaller ones also tend to be the ones that generate a little more employment on average. You could see a few large mills go down. Maybe a number of smaller ones.”
Nelson says more than half of all Canadian lumber exports to the U.S. are from British Columbia.
“The challenge is that there’s only so much kind of large markets for the kind of wood volumes that we move out there. And the U.S. has always been our best market and our richest market.”
Quebec’s largest lumber company argues that B.C.’s largest producers have changed the playing field since the last softwood dispute by buying 39 sawmills in the United States, and could profit if the price for their U.S. softwood goes up because of tariffs.
The dispute largely stems from the fact most Canadian lumber is harvested on government-owned land while American lumber comes mainly from private land. The American lumber lobby has long accused Canadian governments of allowing companies to cut wood for less than market prices, which they say is an unfair subsidy
— With files from Kevin Nielsen, Andrew Russell, and Canadian Press