WTO rules on American/Canadian lumber fight

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 14 11:25:07 EST 2004

April 14, 2004  Los Angeles Times
Split Trade Ruling on Wood
The WTO backs U.S. anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber but says
they must be calculated differently.
>From Reuters

The World Trade Organization on Tuesday rejected almost all of
Canada's complaints against U.S. anti-dumping duties on its
multibillion-dollar softwood business, but Washington did not escape
all censure.

The ruling, the latest in a series in the long-running row, declared
that the United States was within its rights to impose anti-dumping
duties on imports of Canadian lumber.

But the WTO trade panel backed Canada on one important point, which
will force Washington to review how it calculates the price of imports
and hence the amount of duty it can apply.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office in Washington called the WTO
decision "an important victory for the United States." Spokesman
Richard Mills added, "The panel found that in virtually all respects,
the United States action was consistent with our WTO obligations."

Canadian Minister of International Trade Jim Peterson said of the WTO
decision, "We are pleased that the WTO ruled in our favor on the key
issue in the case" and he urged Washington to comply with that part of
the ruling.

But lumber industries on both sides of the border are anxiously
awaiting a separate decision — by a North American Free Trade
Agreement panel on April 30. That panel has been asked to decide
whether the U.S. industry is threatened with injury as a result of
Canadian wood exports.

A negative finding would bring an end to all U.S. duties. 

The WTO decision, its final word on this particular aspect of the
lumber dispute, covered anti-dumping duties imposed in 2001. They
initially averaged 9.67%, but were subsequently cut to 8.38%.

However, when combined with separate countervailing duties on Canadian
softwood, U.S. levies total more than 20% on annual shipments of about
$6 billion of spruce, pine, fir and other wood used to build and
remodel houses.

The two countries have been trying unsuccessfully for years to reach a
deal that could replace the duties with a quota on Canadian wood for a
limited time.

Washington says that the duties are needed to compensate for Canadian
state aid. Canada denies there is any subsidy and asked the WTO to
declare the U.S. duties a violation of international trade laws.

Though the WTO panel threw out most of Canada's case, it found that
Washington had erred by not including more highly priced Canadian
lumber when deciding whether there was dumping — the selling of
goods below the price an exporter could get in its home market.

Comment by poster: It's funny what money can do to friends. Global
trade can be a nasty business. As a side note, I'm hoping that the
Forest Service will consider a temporary waiver on the export of raw
logs from the San Bernardino National Forest (and other LA area
National Forests), if (and only if), the price is right.

Larry,     eco-forestry technician

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