Canada threatens retaliation for softwood duties

Canada weighs a number of trade actions against the U.S.

A machine places freshly cut trees into piles before transport to the West Fraser Timber Co. sawmill in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada, on Thursday, July 11, 2013. West Fraser Timber Co., the largest lumber producer in North America, had a sustainable rise in price, demand volatility, and profits within the past year. (Ben Nelms/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

(Ben Nelms/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The Canadian government is threatening multiple trade actions against the United States in retaliation for duties on softwood lumber.

One will be announced publicly in a letter today; another batch of penalties is being studied.

The Canadian Press has learned that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will notify B.C. Premier Christy Clark that he is seriously considering her request for a ban or a tax on thermal coal exports, and that it’s being explored by federal trade officials.

The second threat: possible duties against Oregon industries. That’s the home state of a Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, who has been a hardliner on the lumber dispute.

The Canadian government has found several Oregon business-assistance programs it says may constitute illegal subsidies. It’s considering a process that could lead to retaliatory duties on imports from that state’s products, such as plywood, flooring, wood chips, packaging material and wine.

Government sources insist the threat has nothing to do with U.S. President Donald Trump; they say it’s a one-off, specific action related to one dispute, and one Democratic senator in one state.

They say a long-term deal on softwood lumber would be the best way to prevent the dispute from escalating.

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