Energy and Resource Development
Government strongly disagrees with United States decision to impose duty on Canadian softwood lumber products25 April 2017
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government will take every avenue available to fight a preliminary determination announced today by the United States Department of Commerce imposing duties on imports of softwood lumber products from Canada.
“Our government disagrees strongly with the decision to impose an unfair and unjust duty,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for Trade Policy. “We adamantly believe that the accusations are unfounded and baseless. In addition, the federal government, through Global Affairs Canada, supports our position that New Brunswick softwood lumber products should be excluded from any border measures imposed by the American government.”
The forestry industry supports thousands of jobs in both Canada and the United States. In New Brunswick, the softwood lumber industry contributes more than $1.45 billion to the provincial economy each year and employs more than 22,000 people.
“New Brunswick woodlot owners have been a key part of a vibrant and healthy wood market in our province,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “Wood from private woodlots continues to be a significant supply for sawmills.”
Wood from private woodlots has more than doubled since the economic downturn, from 800,000 cubic metres in 2008 to more than two million cubic metres in both 2015-16 and 2016-17. Less than 50 per cent of the wood available in New Brunswick comes from Crown land.
“These are the strong arguments that support New Brunswick’s case with respect to our dialogue on this trade matter,” said Doucet.
“Putting barriers on trade is not the solution,” said Melanson. “For more than 30 years, our province has been excluded from every softwood lumber agreement and all trade litigation. Our government aggressively maintains that New Brunswick continues to reflect the special market conditions that have previously merited exclusion.”
Premier Brian Gallant and other government representatives have been lobbying the federal and American governments in support of New Brunswick’s exclusion. Melanson was in Boston last week, discussing the matter with officials of the Massachusetts state government, and did the same during an advocacy mission to Augusta, Maine, earlier this month.
The provincial government has also set up a task force to address the issue. The task force, representing 11 government departments, aims to determine and mitigate the impact the preliminary decision by the United States could have on New Brunswick communities and families.
“Our government will be there to work hand-in-hand with the families and communities who make up this industry to do what we can to mitigate the impact from the preliminary ruling,” said Melanson. “We want communities which are impacted by this decision to know that our government will continue to press vigorously for a resolution to the matter of the New Brunswick softwood lumber industry from any border measures imposed by the American government.”25-04-17