As BC softwood lumber producers brace for additional duties on their exports to the US, BC Lumber Trade Council President Susan Yurkovich says it could be worse.
“BC, 15 years ago, really started pushing hard to diversify our markets particularly in Asia before we would have been probably 80% exposed to the US market we are probably in the 50% world now and we’ve moved about 30% of our lumber products offshore.”
Yurkovich would like to see even more market diversification for Canadian lumber to reduce impacts from US trade actions. She says US lumber producers have essentially weaponized the country’s trade laws to punish competitors.
“The US industry uses them to their advantage to harm their competitors and to constrain the shipment of Canadian lumber into the US, which pushes prices up and they benefit from that. The way the laws are, they use the laws quite effectively to harm their competitors, which they have been doing for decades now.”
That being said, Yurkovich says the Council is still hoping for a negotiated trade agreement with the States.
“It’s very frustrating to be fighting the same fight that we did in 1994. We think, ultimately, we will be successful but it sure is frustrating to have to go through it again.”
While the countervailing duties imposed in April haven’t had much of an impact, she says the anti-dumping duties could drive down prices, resulting in job losses for forestry workers.
“There’s good demand for our lumber and prices have been pretty good so that has mitigated the impact of the countervailing duties we’ve had in place. We’ll have to watch to see what the market do going forward.”
As the country’s largest lumber producer and the largest lumber exporter to the US, BC will likely bear the brunt of impact on the market. The BC Lumber Trade Council estimates that 145,000 jobs in the province rely on the forestry industry, either directly or indirectly.
(Files from Shannon Waters with MYPRINCEGEORGENOW)