The U.S. Commerce Department (International Trade Administration) is soliciting public comments regarding any subsidies, including so-called stumpage fees on standing timber, provided by “certain countries” exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States during the period July 31 through Dec. 31, 2016.
Comments must be submitted by June 5th and should include the name of the country that provided the subsidy, the name of the subsidy program, a brief description of the subsidy program, and the relevant government body or authority that provided the subsidy.
The invitation for comments is part of a mandatory reporting process established by the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008. The law requires the U.S. Commerce Department to submit a report to Congress every 180 days on subsidies provided to lumber imports from any country that provides at least 1% of total U.S. lumber imports (classified under HTSUS 4407.10.01). According to official U.S. import data, Canada is the only country that presently meets this requirement.
The comment process is taking place as the Commerce Department and U.S. International Trade Commission continue investigations into whether Canada is unfairly subsidizing and dumping its lumber into the United States.
A coalition of U.S. producers maintains that Canada unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry by providing access to timber resources on publicly owned lands at below market rates, a contention that Commerce substantially upheld in its preliminary determination of countervailing duties last week on more than $5 billion worth of softwood lumber imported from Canada.