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Softwood Lumber Dispute Escalates Between U.S. and Canada

Article By Ben Gann

In April, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it is placing countervailing duties (CVD) on softwood lumber imports from Canada to the U.S. Levies ranging from 3 to 24 percent are being applied on softwood lumber from five Canadian companies. As part of the preliminary decision, all other Canadian softwood lumber producers and exporters will pay a rate of 19.88 percent.

A preliminary decision by the Department of Commerce on antidumping duties (AD) is scheduled for June 23. A final CVD and AD determination is scheduled to be issued no later than September 6.

The action taken by the federal government is in response to a petition filed by the U.S. Lumber Coalition, a group representing American softwood lumber producers, alleging harm caused by unfair subsidies for the Canadian softwood lumber industry. As part of the petition, the coalition seeks to restore what it considers to be fair trade conditions in softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada.

At the heart of the disagreement is the claim that Canadian provincial governments are unfairly subsidizing the softwood lumber industry, thereby causing harm to the U.S. producers. The U.S. Lumber Coalition wants duties imposed on Canadian imports to offset what it sees as the harm caused by those subsidies.

The Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) between the United States (U.S.) and Canada expired on October 12, 2015, and was in effect from 2006 to 2015. There was a one-year cooling off period following expiration of the agreement.Lumber prices have increased over the past year in anticipation of duties being placed on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U.S.

Political events in the U.S. and Canada have only made negotiating a new agreement more challenging. Expiration of the agreement occurred just prior to the Canadian federal election that saw Justin Trudeau elected as the new Prime Minister. That was followed by the U.S presidential election, which took place several weeks after the end of the one-year cooling off period.

Moreover, the issue of trade was prominent during last year’s presidential election and defied traditional political norms held by Republicans and Democrats. President Donald Trump was able to resonate with voters, and ultimately win the election last fall, in part by bashing U.S. trade deals as overly friendly to other countries. The president has continued his strong criticism of past trade deals, and has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Efforts toward a new softwood lumber agreement have been further complicated by the slow pace in staffing federal agencies by the Trump Administration, including the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) that negotiates trade agreements. Properly staffing USTR is important in moving forward to a new SLA.

Reports suggest that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will play a larger role in trade policy than is traditionally the case for someone in his position. President Trump’s economic advisers overall support a trade policy approach that is more protectionist than under President Obama.

NLBMDA members report they have seen significant increases in Canadian softwood lumber prices in recent months. The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite price corroborates that with the index up over 25 percent in the past year—likely in anticipation of new duties on Canadian imports.

American and Canadian softwood lumber producers have nearly all of the U.S. softwood lumber market. U.S. lumber producers have approximately 65 to 71 percent of the U.S. softwood lumber market, and Canadian producers’ market share fluctuates between 28 and 34 percent. There is relatively little softwood lumber imported into the U.S. from countries other than Canada, although there have been efforts to encourage imports into the U.S. from other countries.

NLBMDA supports the U.S. and Canada reaching a new softwood lumber agreement that helps meet domestic demand for softwood lumber, does not put U.S. lumber producers at a competitive disadvantage, unnecessarily restrict the availability of products, or increase the cost of housing to the detriment of prospective homebuyers and U.S.consumers.

In addition, the association has not taken a position regarding any export taxes or market quotas as part of a new agreement. NLBMDA continues to meet with government officials regarding the need for a new softwood lumber agreement to avoid a prolonged trade dispute.

Partnership With Heartland Payment Systems

The Mountain States Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association is pleased to announce our partnership with Heartland Payment Systems®, our official preferred provider of credit card and payroll processing. Heartland offers a full suite of payment and payroll solutions designed specifically for our members. As experts in payment and payroll processing, Heartland can customize value-added programs that are right for your business.

How will my business benefit?

Heartland offers our members local, statewide representation from an established company that focuses on card and payroll processing. Our clients benefit by being able to better manage their time, their customers and their businesses more effectively and still save money with Heartland’s competitive rates.

Heartland’s relationship managers are known for maintaining long-term merchant relationships through unparalleled customer service. So you know that your dedicated Heartland representative will be available when you need them.

The Heartland Difference

Scott Shick, Senior Relationship Manager is constantly working to provide valuable programs for your business. We think that our partnership with Heartland meets our goal of providing our members with value-added services to help your businesses grow and prosper.

For more information about Heartland’s products and services, please visit their website at HeartlandPaymentSystems.com or contact Scott Shick at (303) 883-1468 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MSLBMDA's 2015 Expo Was A Great Time!

"Things Are Heating Up" was the theme for the 2015 Products Expo scheduled March 19th at the Expo Hall in the Denver Mart, in Denver. Thanks to our supportive Exhibitor sponsors, the highlight of the event was the GRAND PRIZE DRAWING of a truckload of new material valued at nearly $7,500! Nate Vogler of Build-Rite Lumber, Saratoga, WY was the lucky winner! Expo guests also enjoyed the savory fare of our the vendors who participated in our first Chili Cook-Off. Great fun, great night and we hope to see you next year. Details on the 2016 event will be forthcoming!

Member A/R Solutions Program Through AmerAssist

Material Dealers Association recommended service provider – and the programs they offer our lumber and building materials dealers. AmerAssist is one of the nation’s leading providers of accounts receivable solutions and collections. We specialize in our industry. In today’s challenging economic conditions, it’s more important and necessary than ever before to protect your organization’s cash flow. AmerAssist offers you full-service cash flow management and collection programs designed to work as an extension of your internal staff to recover and safeguard your delinquent receivables. AmerAssist has developed a program specifically for MSLBMDA members. In addition, members are eligible for exclusive member discounts. The AmerAssist program offers important credit and collection benefits including:

  • Full-service collections including calls by professional collectors during the daytime, evenings and weekends as necessary to recover your money.
  • Fees as low as 10% regardless of the size of the account.
  • Custom Account Auditing to quickly recover accounts without customer alienation.
  • Every available remedy including filing non-responsive debtors with credit bureaus nationally and litigation, when appropriate, at AmerAssist’s expense.
  • Our Internet-based programs are easy to use and are a cost-effective alternative to liens to quickly bring money back into your business

For additional information, or to schedule a no-obligation receivables analysis, simply contact AmerAssist at (877) 207-9215 or on the web at www.amerassist.com/ars/affinity. We appreciate your consideration and know you will find AmerAssist’s services a valuable business tool. Thanks so much! CLICK HERE FOR INFO.

Industry Education & Training

For information on industry education and training through the MSLBMDA, visit our

Check the Calendar Page often since we will be adding more classes continually! Give us a call if there is something specific we can help you with that you don't see scheduled.

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