U.S. Panel Reaffirms Duty On Canadian Softwood

By Agence France-Presse A U.S. trade panel on Dec. 16 reaffirmed its ruling that Canadian softwood imports are unfairly subsidized, in the latest twist in a decades-old trade dispute. The quasi-judicial International Trade Commission reiterated the U.S. view that its industry is harmed by imports of softwood lumber from Canada, which it said are subsidized and sold at less than fair value. The ITC reviewed the matter after it was sent back by a trade panel of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The ITC issued a previous ruling on May 16, but NAFTA in September ordered a review. The wood has caused a long-running dispute, though reports last week spoke of a tentative deal between U.S. and Canadian negotiators. The case has drawn interest from timber industries in both countries, as well as the U.S. construction industry and organizations that claim duties on Canadian imports are driving up costs for the United States. One coalition of consumer and building groups called American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) said Tuesday's ruling was wrong and should again be rejected by NAFTA. "We believe that NAFTA again will reject the flawed ITC conclusion, allowing the duties to be removed and the cases terminated as early as March," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokeswoman. ACAH said that if NAFTA again rejects the ITC finding, the antidumping and countervailing duties of nearly 28% would be terminated and the money collected over the past 18 months returned to Canada. Last week, a U.S. Commerce Department official in Washington said "there is a proposed framework and the Canadians have taken it back to their industry." According to the Canadian government, the proposed agreement would replace the duties with a quota allocation at 31.5% of U.S. consumption of softwood lumber. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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