Commerce taking hard look at softwood subsidies

   The Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is accepting comments through Nov. 18 on any subsidies, including stumpage subsidies, provided by certain countries that exported softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the U.S. from Jan. 1 to June 30.
   Under the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008, the Commerce secretary must submit to Congress a report every 180 days on any subsidy provided by countries exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the U.S., including stumpage subsidies.
   Commerce submitted its last subsidy report on June 20.
   ITA is soliciting public comment only on subsidies provided by countries with exports of at least 1 percent of total U.S. imports of softwood lumber by quantity, as classified under Harmonized Tariff Schedule code 4407.1001.
   The agency said official U.S. import data published by the International Trade Commission’s Tariff and Trade DataWeb indicate Brazil, Canada, Germany and Sweden exported softwood lumber to the U.S. during the relevant time period accounting for at least 1 percent of U.S. imports of the product.
   Twelve senators on Sept. 11 wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pushing for the U.S. to renew efforts to conclude a softwood lumber agreement with Canada after the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada, which staved off antidumping and countervailing duties, expired on Oct. 12, 2015.
   The senators noted that current tariffs on Canadian softwood average more than 20 percent and that lumber prices hit an all-time high in June.
   More than 150 House lawmakers on June 12 also wrote a letter to Ross and Lighthizer urging the U.S. to return to the negotiating table with Canada.