Softwood exports below critical level

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Contrary to U.S. fears, new export data shows Canadian lumber producers are not flooding their southern neighbors since the softwood lumber pact expired at the end of March.

Federal government data shows Canadian softwood exports between Apr. 1 and May 31, was 12.4 per cent higher than exports in the same period one year ago.

That’s below the 15 per cent increase in Canadian exports U.S. officials have suggested would trigger so-called “critical circumstances.” A finding of critical circumstances would allow U.S. authorities to impose retroactive trade sanctions on Canada’s softwood exports, which are valued at about $10 billion annually.

“Softwood lumber exports are up due to strong U.S. housing starts and spring construction,” officials in Ottawa says. “We don’t see a critical circumstance.”

The U.S. lumber industry has complained that a “wall of wood” from Canada would swamp American producers, with the expiry of the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber pact. If U.S. trade authorities determine that has happened, Canadian exporters could face retroactive penalty that might run into the millions of dollars.

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