A 20 % import tax that is being slapped on Canadian softwood lumber headed into the U.S. is being met with disappointment and anxiety in B.C.
The duties will take effect next week. A move Donald Trump says is in response to unfair subsidies of our softwood from Canada’s federal and provincial governments.
At work at the Ladysmith Mill the topic on everyone’s minds is the just-announced softwood lumber import taxes and how it will affect their jobs.
Beginning next week the Americans will be slapping a 20 per cent tax on all Canadian softwood lumber imported into the United States, Leaving BC’s forestry industry grappling with a new reality Tuesday.
“It’s a negative effect on our Canadian business,” says CEO of Interfor, Duncan Davies. “But the real loser in all of this is the US homebuilder and US consumer and that’s why we think this is such a misguided effort.”
“You know these guys are deal makers,” says President of BC Lumber Trade Council, Susan Yurkovich. “It’s not uncommon when you’re negotiating to try to rattle the other side and we’re not gonna be rattled. we are resilient and we are gonna continue to fight this fight and we are ultimately gonna be successful.”
On the campaign trail BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark vowed to fight the new taxes that Donald Trump has called his response to unfair subsidies by Canada’s provincial and federal governments.
“We’re going to pursue every strategy that the law allows,” says Clark. “And it is more important than ever that our province be strong, calm and reasoned in the face of this American provocation.”
NDP Leader John Horgan blamed the Liberals for it, arguing they didn’t renegotiate a softwood lumber agreement before Trump took office.
“And now here we are today after two and a half years of inaction by the BC Liberals a 20 per cent tariff with potentially more to come in June,” says Horgan.
Criticisms that were echoed by Green leader Andrew Weaver.
“So today we find out the premier called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the softwood lumber issue,” says Weaver. “It’s a long time coming and frankly this is in my view and the BC Green view nothing more than a political stunt to show power and apparent leadership on a file that has been neglected for many many years.”
Leaving the many thousands who work in BC’s forest industry to wait and wonder if these new tariffs will slow the recovery they were beginning to feel comfortable in and if the immediate tumble in the Canadian dollar is perhaps a sign of economic impacts to come.