"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) 

The great Softwood Trade War between Canada and the US, that is. Well, maybe not entirely over, but slouching toward armistice:
A routine accounting review has persuaded the United States to do what years of legal challenges and fiery rhetoric could not — dramatically lower the punishing duties on Canadian softwood lumber.

In a decision that will save Canadian lumber companies roughly $600-million a year, the U.S. Commerce Department said yesterday it was nearly halving its 20-per-cent duty. And unlike the seemingly endless litany of legal rulings dating to 2002, those savings will be enjoyed within days, or as soon as the new rate is published in the official U.S. Federal Register.

Ottawa and the Canadian lumber industry hailed the move as an indication the United States is running out of options in the wake of a string of legal setbacks.

"The ball game is over," said Frank Dottori, chairman of Tembec Inc., a Montreal company that is paying about $100-million a year in duties on its lumber exports to the United States.

If you don't live in Canada or in America's lumber-producing Northwest, you may not understand how huge this is - but trust me, it is enormous. Our softwood duties, which Canada has pretty pursuasively argued are in gross violation of the letter and spirit of NAFTA, have been a festering sore point between the two nations for some time now. Of course, there are (as always) winners and losers - this may well represent the coup de grace for the already mortally wounded timber industry here in Washington State and elsewhere.

Another nifty feature of the above-cited article - it includes the lovely phrase "the new lower rate was due almost entirely to the stronger loonie." As opposed to the stark raving loonie, I suppose.




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