Trade Panel Rules In Canada’s Favour Amid Softwood Lumber Dispute

Canada has won a victory over the U.S. in the two country’s long running trade dispute over softwood lumber.

A joint North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel has given the United States three months to rethink its tariffs on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. The five-member panel of Canadian and American representatives ruled that there is no evidence that Canada's softwood industry has harmed American softwood producers.

The most recent softwood agreement between the two countries expired in the middle of the last federal election. Eighteen months later, the U.S. imposed a new round of import duties, arguing Canada unfairly subsidizes its softwood producers by underpricing lumber cut on government-owned land.

Canada has filed complaints under both NAFTA and World Trade Organization rules. The Canadian industry is struggling with numerous mill closures and layoffs amid the tariffs, depressed prices from lower international demand and supply issues related to forest fires and pest infestations.

U.S. trade officials said they are considering appealing the latest NAFTA decision.