For the fifth time since the beginning of the 80s, Washington has trigger a highly volatile commercial dispute in the softwood lumber industry.

On April 25, the US Department of Commerce imposed duties on Canadian exports—ranging from 3% to 24% depending on the businesses. SMEs in particular were slapped with a 19.88% tariff. What’s more: except for Résolu, West Fraser, Canfor and Tolko, other companies in the softwood lumber sector must pay duties retroactive 90 days.

The provincial Liberal government has already announced that it will provide lumber producers with loan guarantees to help them pay duties and stay in business. The government of Québec estimates that 200 to 300 million dollars are needed to establish a financial aid program for the forestry industry. 

The Federal government is also taking action. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr indicated that Canada has prevailed every time it has challenged the US  through the North American Free Trade Agreement, World Trade Organization and US court system. “We have won them all,” he said on April 25. The specific measures to be carried out remain to be seen; however, the Federal government is currently exploring all options. 

Another blow may be coming to the industry: on June 23, the US will make a decision regarding antidumping laws. 


Crête, Mylène. Imposition de droits de douane sur le bois d'oeuvre: Ottawa examine les options. La Presse. 25 avril 2017.

Desjardins, François. L'industrie forestière retient son souffle. Le Devoir. 24 avril 2017.

Radio-Canada. Ottawa dénonce vigoureusement les droits imposés sur le bois d'oeuvre. 25 avril 2017.

Stay connected to your industry