National Taskforce on the Future of Forestry - Policy Document
Media Release - Unifor National
November 2, 2017 - Any level of softwood lumber duties is unfair trade
Toronto—Amendments to the U.S.-imposed duties on softwood lumber exports doesn’t change the crisis facing Canada’s forestry industry, says Unifor.
“Nothing changes today. The tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber are outrageous,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We expect our government’s response to be bold and confident. Forestry communities deserve nothing less.”
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced today that it would lower the combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate to 20.83 per cent from 26.75 per cent. Conservative estimates suggest that sustained 25% combined duties could yield a loss of 25,000 Canadian jobs.
Unifor says that the $867-million forestry industry aid package announced by the Canadian government in May 2017 will help cushion the blow, but it is not a long-term solution.
“Our forestry industry needs a new softwood agreement that defends good jobs and strengthens Canadian competitiveness,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the Unifor National President. “It’s very unlikely these tariffs will stand up to legal scrutiny, so Canada should negotiate from a position of strength.”
In 2002 the U.S. government imposed similar tariffs, but international trade tribunals have consistently over-ruled American duties on Canadian lumber. While Unifor is confident that the new U.S. duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.
A fresh round of unfair tariffs coming out of the U.S. Commerce Department—this time on Canadian-made newsprint—will only hurt workers in an industry already reeling from softwood duties.
“No forestry sector job is safe from Donald Trump’s recklessness,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The Trudeau government needs to take bold and confident action to protect Canadian workers.”
The Trump government levied more duties on Canadian forestry products this week, this time taking aim at newsprint. This latest tariff adds an overall tax of 6.53 percent on more than 20 plants across Canada and follows the outrageous 20.83 percent combined duty imposed by the U.S. on Canadian softwood lumber in 2017.
“Forestry is as important to the Canadian economy as energy,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Fighting unfair trade sanctions has to be a top priority. Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake that will impact local communities, action is needed now.”
The federal government came to the aid of the softwood industry in May 2017 with a $867-million aid package, but Unifor says it is not a long-term solution for the more than 200,000 direct jobs in 650 communities across Canada.
Facts from Unifor National
Canada’s forestry sector directly employs 202,000 people from every region of the country. That’s double what the oil and gas sector employs, and triple the employment of the mining sector.
As a result, forestry’s impact on the Canadian Economy is massive: the industry produces $60 billion worth of products each year and is Canada’s third most valuable export sector. The United States is the destination for 70% of Canada’s softwood lumber exports.
The forestry sector is also a source of good-paying jobs in Canada, with wages 17% above the national average. Direct industry payroll injects $11.7 billion per year into the wider economy.
The last time the U.S. imposed a softwood lumber duty, 15,000 workers were laid off within months.