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Trade figures show decline in softwood exports

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Canadian softwood exports to the U.S. have taken a massive hit since the latest round of tariffs...

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Canadian softwood exports to the U.S. have taken a massive hit since the latest round of tariffs, according to the most recent trade figures.

Overall, Canadian softwood exports to the U.S. dropped more than 25 per cent since May 22, which is when duties amounting to 27 per cent were applied to the lumber.

In B.C., exports were down to 83.3 per cent of what they were during the same period last year. Meanwhile, in Quebec, shipments are down to 51 per cent of 2001 volumes for the same period.

The latest figures come from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which set up a monitoring program following the dispute with the U.S. Analysts indicate part of the heavy decline is attributable to the fact Canadian producers flooded the U.S. market in the weeks leading up to the duties when steep tariffs weren’t being applied to exports.

The last of that duty-free lumber is currently on the verge of being used up, with price increases for U.S. consumers expected to soon result from the tariffs.

It is expected the impact of the duties will be felt even harder when the traditional construction slowdown occurs in the U.S. this fall.

“As we get closer to fall it’s going to get tougher and tougher for even the most efficient B.C. mills,” says Laurence Cater, publisher of Madison’s Canadian Lumber Reporter. There are currently about 4,600 lumber workers out of work in B.C., with some industry observers predicting up to 20,000 will be without work across the province if the dispute continues.

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