Ottawa is “disappointed” with Washington’s decision to appeal last month’s World Trade Organization (WTO) panel report on U.S. countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber, which found these levies to be inconsistent with international trade rules, International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Monday.
“This appeal comes at a time when the WTO Appellate Body is currently unable to hear appeals as a direct result of the U.S. refusal to agree to the appointment of new Appellate Body members,” Ng said in a statement.
“U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber have time and again been found to be unfair and unwarranted. These duties have caused unjustified harm to Canadian industry and U.S. consumers alike, and are impeding economic recovery on both sides of the border.”
Canadian officials estimate that the U.S. has already collected nearly $3 billion US in duties on Canadian exports of softwood lumber.
‘A thorough and balanced report’
In remarks at today’s WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting regarding the panel report and the U.S. decision to appeal, Canadian officials said they welcomed the panel’s findings.
“The panel reviewed thousands of pages of written submissions and supporting evidence to prepare a thorough and balanced report,” Canadian officials said.
The panel repeatedly found that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) improperly determined that the Canadian provinces provide subsidies to softwood lumber producers by selling Crown timber for less than adequate remuneration, they added.
The panel concluded that the DOC “repeatedly failed to act in an objective and unbiased manner,” Canadian officials said.
Canada will continue to work tirelessly to defend its forestry sector, Ng said.
“We will keep challenging these duties through all available avenues, including through our ongoing legal challenges under NAFTA,” Ng said.