Feds announce $867M to help lumber sector weather tariffs

The Conference Board doesn't have a specific list of what it would like to see in an aid package.

"Our government strongly disagrees with the trade actions taken by the U.S. Department of Commerce ... we will continue to fight these duties vigorously, including through litigation", Mr. Carr said. Canada denies this is the case.Ottawa struck back earlier this month, threatening to ban shipments of USA thermal coal from Pacific ports and suggesting sanctions against products from Oregon.

He acknowledged however that despite Canada's determination to oppose the Americans, it "doesn't make the uncertain days ahead any easier for those affected". The total package is said to tally $867 million, the vast majority would be in the form of loans and loan guarantees. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will make $105 million in commercial financing available to help eligible forestry companies in the short and medium term.

The help includes $260 million to help diversify the market base for Canadian lumber products, improve the efficiency of indigenous forestry initiatives and extend work-sharing agreement limits to minimize layoffs.

On April 28, the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped countervailing import duties as high as 24 per cent on Canadian softwood, arguing Canada unfairly subsidizes its industry by keeping the price of logging artificially low.

The board's report says duties paid at current export levels will cost Canadian producers $1.7 billion a year until a softwood settlement is reached.

"This undermines the government's trade case..."

Baskin is adamant that the Liberals wouldn't help their cause by providing the industry with an aid package.

Anti-dumping duties to be announced next month are expected to raise tariffs to about 30 per cent, half of which should be absorbed by Canadian producers.

USA producers say, under their system, the cost of timber rights on private land is more expensive than the Canadian "stumpage" fees paid by forestry companies to cut trees down on provincially owned property. In British Columbia, for instance, Crown timber accounts for 95 per cent of the province's forested lands.

"Any action has the potential of carrying trade risks; we believe we have been prudent", Carr said.

  • Zachary Reyes