NAFTA panel says U.S. can’t show harm from Canadian softwood industry

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OTTAWA — A joint NAFTA panel has given the United States three months to rethink its tariffs on imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

The five-member panel of Canadian and American representatives says there is no evidence that Canada’s softwood industry has harmed United States softwood producers.

The most recent softwood agreement between the two countries expired in the middle of the last federal election.

Eighteen months later the U.S. imposed a new round of import duties, arguing Canada unfairly subsidizes its softwood producers by underpricing lumber cut on government-owned land.

Canada has filed complaints under both NAFTA and World Trade Organization rules.

The Canadian industry is struggling with numerous mill closures and layoffs amid the tariffs, depressed prices from lower international demand and supply issues in Canada related to forest fires and pest infestations.

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