In 2016, imports of softwood lumber from Canada were valued at an estimated $5.66 billion.
Escalating a trade dispute with Canada, the U.S. Commerce Department on Monday slapped preliminary anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber of up to 7.72 percent, but made a decision to exclude three Atlantic provinces from such punitive tariffs. It set a preliminary dumping rate of 6.87 percent for all other producers in Canada.
Final determinations by the Commerce Department are expected in late 2017.
Canadian lumber producers on Monday said that while they viewed the new duties as unjust, they were actually a bit relieved because they were at the lower end of what the industry was expecting.
The rates are below the average 10 per cent forecast by industry analysts. Protectionist duties hurt Canadian companies and communities and also hurt US consumers who choose to build, buy or renovate a new home, she said.
Mr. Rustad, whose BC Liberal government might soon be replaced by a political alliance of the NDP and Greens, cautioned about rocky times ahead for B.C. softwood producers. "We're market-driven and have the highest Crown stumpage rates in Canada".
Meanwhile, the U.S. Lumber Coalition, an industry lobby group, said it applauded Washington's move to counter Canada's "unfair trading practices".More news: 'Like bombs': Bankrupt company's air bags still out there
"These duties result from the trade action which is part of the continued attempt by the protectionist USA lumber lobby to constrain imports of high-quality Canadian lumber into the US market and to drive up prices for their benefit", said Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council, in a statement.
The ripple effects of the first round of softwood lumber duties are already being felt.
"These duties result from the trade action which is part of the continued attempt by the protectionist US lumber lobby to constrain imports of high-quality Canadian lumber into the USA market and to drive up prices for their benefit", president Susan Yurkovich said in a news release.
"The duties are a direct result of the actions taken by the protectionist US lumber lobby whose sole objective it to create artificial constraints on Canadian lumber to drive up prices for their benefit at the expense of American consumers".
Excluded from the statement was any mention of New Brunswick, which last month appointed a special envoy to the U.S.in effort to secure a favourable deal in the tariff dispute. Since then, trade between the two countries has become an increasingly fraught issue, with President Donald Trump seeking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. In June, the Canadian government announced it would provide almost $1 billion in additional subsidies to the Canadian softwood lumber industry.
The weakness of the Canadian dollar over the past three years has given Canada an advantage. "We remain confident that a negotiated settlement is both possible and in the best interests of our two countries".