October 24, 2016
With the Canada-United States Softwood Lumber Agreement now expired it is becoming likely that the U.S. lumber industry will resume its pre-agreement practice of repeated complaints about subsidization which usually result in the imposition of countervailing duties on Canadian lumber. The duties are almost always revoked by the World Trade Organization but it takes years and causes real damage to Canadian industry.
Canada's Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland, and the United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, issued a common statement earlier this month saying that the two were still working towards a new softwood lumber agreement. However, the two countries appear to be far away from a final resolution.
In a small step in order to assist Canadian industry in anticipation of a possible countervailing duty investigation by the United States, the Government of Canada announced it has developed an e-portal.
As part of its investigation process, U.S. Commerce Department has the authority to exclude from its determination of countervailable subsidy any company that has an individual net countervailable subsidy rate of zero or de minimis.
"The e-portal will assist companies to apply to be considered for exclusion from any countervailing duties that could result from this investigation. The e-portal will initially allow Canadian companies to: a) create their profiles and b) access the current version of the Company Exclusions package, which will be updated following initiation of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Commerce."
It must be noted that the e-portal will only enable companies to apply following initiation by the United States, and that the United States has not agreed to undertake such an exclusions process and is under no obligation to do so.
For further information see Notice to Exporters - Softwood lumber exports to the United States