US lumber manufacturers have welcomed the decision by the Canadian government to use the US Court of International Trade to resolve the softwood dispute.
On Friday, the Canadian government broadened its pushback against the US decision to keep imposing duties on Canadian softwood lumber.
The softwood tariffs are the legacy of a decades-long trade dispute over the Canadian industry that remained unresolved since a quota agreement expired in 2015.
Last week, the US Commerce Department upheld a duty rate of 7.99% on all Canadian softwood lumber imported into the United States.
According to Andrew Miller, Chair of the US Lumber Association, Canada has traditionally insisted that the appeal be heard by a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) panel.
“We have long believed that US courts are the appropriate venue for resolving legal questions around the application of US trade laws, and we are pleased that the Canadian parties have now agreed to pursue their claims before a US judge,” Mr Miller said.
The US Lumber Association represents more than 500 manufacturers across the United States.
It has strongly hit back against stumpage fees, which it claims provide an unfair advantage to Canadian exporters in the US market.
Mr Miller said duties are “exactly what must happen for enduring expansion of US lumber manufacturing and availability to meet the demand to build more American homes.”
In Canada, lumber-producing provinces set’ stumpage fees’ for timber harvested from Crown land, a system that US producers — forced to pay market rates — say amounts to an unfair subsidy.
“Failure to fully enforce the trade laws would only undermine long-term confidence in expanding US sawmilling capacity and jobs in the American softwood lumber industry,” Mr Miller said.
Last week, Mr Miller said the US industry “remains open” to a new agreement on softwood lumber but said the Canadian producers have to yet agree to a “unified position” allowing the two governments to negotiate one.
However, at least for now, US lumber manufacturers will continue to “evaluate issues for appeal and look forward to defending the Department of Commerce’s antidumping determination as consistent with US law.”