Canada broadens pushback on 'unfair, unjust' U.S. softwood lumber duties

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is broadening its pushback against the latest U.S. decision to keep imposing duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

Trade Minister Mary Ng says Canada is launching challenges under the North American free-trade deal as well as before the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Nine days ago, Ottawa sought a judicial review of last month's Treasury Department assessment of the levies, which provided modest relief but maintained the combined duty rate at 7.99 per cent.

Ng says Canada remains open to negotiating a resolution to the decades-old dispute, which she calls "unfair, unjust and illegal," while arguing it increases housing costs.

She is again urging U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to sit down and negotiate a resolution to the decades-old dispute.

Such a deal would be challenging, since the U.S. takes issue with a long-standing regulatory system in Canada that it says puts American producers at a disadvantage.

Tai has said the U.S. would be willing to negotiate, but only if Canada does away with a system that allows provinces to set prices for timber from Crown land.

Ng's decision this week will have Canada bring the latest U.S. anti-dumping duty determination before the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Ottawa is also challenging the Treasury Department's fourth review under Chapter 10 of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, which pertains to review and dispute settlement procedures. Ottawa made the same move a year ago after the third review.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2023.

The Canadian Press