Softwood Lumber Hearings, Washington, DC: Update

At a hearing on Tuesday by a trade panel under Chapter 19 of the North American free-trade agreement, lawyers for the Canadian industry and federal government said U.S. lumber producers were doing just fine before the tariffs came down – and certainly did not need any protection from Canadian competition, according to Globe and Mail Wednesday.

The Canadian government and lumber industry argued Tuesday that American forestry companies have not been hurt by imports from north of the border, as Ottawa tried to persuade an international trade tribunal to lift punitive Trump administration tariffs.

Much of Tuesday’s hearing revolved around arguments over which time period to consider when looking at whether the U.S. industry was hurt by Canadian competition. Canadian government lawyers contended that 2014 was an anomalously good year for the American lumber market and should not be the basis for comparisons. Instead, they said, it was better to consider the year after the 2015 expiration of the previous lumber deal, when prices increased even as more Canadian lumber entered the U.S. market.Globe and Mail

Meanwhile, still on the lumber trade file, Western Forest Products CEO Don Demens was also in Washington, speaking to a NAFTA panel to argue that American softwood lumber duties should not be applied to the cedar products the company makes, said Business in Vancouver Tuesday. Softwood lumber was excluded from NAFTA and was not included in the recently renegotiated agreement.

Wholesaler (net FOB sawmill) Softwood Lumber Prices vs US Existing Home Sales: 2019

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter

Demens will zero in on appearance-grade lumber made from Western Red and Yellow Cedar. These products are not construction grade lumber, which is the heart of the softwood lumber dispute that has prompted the U.S. government to levy duties of more than 20%. — Business in Vancouver

American softwood lumber duties have cost Western Forest Products $71 million, as of the last quarter. Explained Demens, “We’re going to continue to press the fact that cedar and redwoods are separate products from construction lumber, and therefore they should be investigated separately. They’re not the cause of the dispute because they’re not injuring any U.S. producers. Our argument is it’s a small volume, it doesn’t injure U.S. producers and is not part of the cause of the dispute.”

Wholesaler (net FOB sawmill) Construction Framing Softwood Lumber Prices vs US House Sales Price: 2019

SOURCE: Madison’s Lumber Reporter