Lumber, Nafta and Mexico Signal Long Canada-U.S. Trade Spat

4/26/2017 Bloomberg Politics

Flicker/Ian Britton

A long road remains after Donald Trump fired the starting pistol in yet another softwood lumber fight, one of several trade disputes the U.S. and Canada are set to spend years sorting out.

The U.S. president announced countervailing duties of up to 24 percent on softwood lumber from Canada on Monday, drawing rebuke and a threat of legal action from the northern neighbor. While it could have been worse — Canadian lumber shares surged Tuesday because the tariffs turned out to be less severe than some expected — it won’t be quick. The last softwood spat ran from 2001 to 2006.

“This isn’t an easy fix,” Derek Nighbor, chief executive officer of the Forest Products Association of Canada, told Bloomberg TV Canada Tuesday. He said Canada can’t appeal duties until they’re finalized early next year. In the meantime, the duties could mean an extra C$500,000 ($370,000) or more a month for a single Canadian mill. “These are very significant costs, and businesses are going to have to figure out: How do you manage through this? How do you cash-flow through this?”

Among the next steps the U.S. may take are anti-dumping duties, with a decision due June 23, and finalized duties expected by January of 2018.

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