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Alberta builds stronger softwood lumber case

A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel responsible for reviewing the softwood lumber dispute has released its final report with findings highly favourable to Canada.

In 16 of the 19 claims raised, the WTO panel was in favour of Canada. This includes issues such as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (USDOC) not considering relevant information submitted by provinces and not making appropriate adjustments to consider their specific market conditions.

The report comes after the USDOC imposed both countervailing and anti-dumping tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. in April 2017. Canada, with the support of the provinces and industry, including Alberta’s government and the Alberta Forest Products Association, initiated the WTO challenge of the countervailing duty determination in November 2017.   

Alberta looks forward to U.S. implementation of the WTO panel’s report, but recognizes that there will be further lengthy legal processes ahead. In the meantime, it is expected that the findings will guide future legal decisions, and further solidify Canada’s position that U.S. duties applied to Canadian softwood lumber are unfair and unwarranted.

“This report is a win for the thousands of Alberta families that rely on the forest sector. While we remain hopeful that the USDOC takes into account the panel’s report in the upcoming decisions, we will continue to vigorously defend our world-class forest sector through litigation and appeals under the North American Free Trade Agreement and WTO appeal processes.”  Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“This is only one piece in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute, and resolving this dispute is very important. Canada still has ongoing NAFTA cases related to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s underlying determinations. We are confident those cases will be resolved in Canada’s favour, and the U.S. duties will be ruled to be unwarranted. Alberta’s government will continue to fight for a fair deal for Albertans and for job creators.” Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

“In Alberta, our approach to forestry is sustainable and fair. This ruling affirms that we are acting in accordance with international law and trading our products fairly. We will continue fighting on behalf of the 40,000 Albertans whose jobs depend on forestry to achieve a resolution to this dispute.” David Anderson, chair, Alberta Softwood Lumber Trade Council president and CEO, Millar Western Forest Products

Quick facts

  • In 2019, Alberta’s forest industry exported $765 million of softwood lumber to the U.S., representing 86 per cent of the province’s total softwood lumber exports.

  • Alberta companies continue to pay duties between 20.23 per cent and 23.56 per cent.

  • Forest product manufacturing in Alberta contributed $2 billion to the provincial GDP in 2019 with export market values reaching $3.49 billion.

Provincial Press Release August 24, 2020 3:50 pm


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