Alberta Vows to Stand Up for its Lumber Sector

An anticipated NAFTA panel ruling on the softwood lumber dispute was issued on Sept. 4.

The NAFTA panel ruled that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) was wrong in its consideration of evidence for the majority of arguments stating that Canadian softwood lumber products have materially injured the U.S. softwood industry.

This means that there is more hard work ahead to make our case in the remaining NAFTA and World Trade Organization panels.

Alberta will continue to support the forest sector, which is vital to the province’s economic diversification efforts.

“We are disappointed with the ITC’s original position that Canadian softwood lumber hurts the U.S. industry. No harm is being done through Canada-U.S. softwood lumber trade. We made a commitment to defend Alberta’s forest sector and this ruling only reinforces our resolve to defend our lumber industry, communities and forestry workers in this unfair dispute.”Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“It is disappointing to see the perception that the U.S. softwood industry is being harmed by Canada-U.S. softwood trade. Alberta’s wood product exports to the U.S. make up about 90 per cent of all international sales. The softwood lumber industry is an important sector in our bilateral trade relationship that creates economic benefits on both sides of the border in industries such as housing and construction.”Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism

“Alberta’s lumber producers will continue to work closely with the Government of Alberta to arrive at a resolution to this dispute and we are appreciative for their support. We have 40,000 jobs and 70 communities reliant on forestry. Unjust trade barriers hurt Alberta’s forest communities and, ironically, lead to higher home prices for U.S. consumers.”Paul Whittaker, president & CEO, Alberta Forest Products Association

Alberta will continue to advocate for free and unfettered trade to increase economic activities and jobs. This industry is an important part of the province’s trading relationship with the United States, which is why softwood lumber produced in Alberta has always been fairly traded across the U.S. border.

Next steps

Alberta will continue to work closely with the federal government and other Canadian provinces on this critical trade issue.

Canada appealed to the World Trade Organization in November 2017 as part of the process. The first hearing was in March 2019; the second hearing is in October 2019. A final decision is anticipated in late 2019 or early 2020.

Quick facts

  • On Dec. 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated Countervailing Duty and Anti-Dumping Duty investigations specific to the import of Canadian softwood lumber. 
  • On Jan. 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce published final duty orders in its countervailing and anti-dumping investigations.
  • Alberta companies are paying duties between 20.23 per cent and 23.56 per cent.
  • C$2.8 billion of softwood lumber duties have been collected as of May 2019 in the current softwood lumber dispute. In 2018, Alberta’s forest industry exported $882 million of softwood lumber to the U.S., representing 83 per cent of the province’s total softwood lumber exports.
  • The NAFTA appeal panel remanded the International Trade Commission decision three times in the previous softwood lumber dispute.