By Ana Swanson and Damian Paletta
The Trump administration announced on Monday it is planning to impose a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imported from Canada, in what may be the biggest trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada in over a decade.
The Obama administration began the review of trade in softwood lumber last year out of concern that Canada was subsidizing its wood industry in a way that hurt U.S. rivals. The decision to impose what are known as “countervailing duties” in retaliation for Canada’s wood subsidies, which will be announced Tuesday, is subject to a final review by the International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency that advises the government on trade policy.
The decision, however, allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting the funds from Canadian importers immediately. Five Canadian companies were a part of the investigation, and the United States will seek to collect money from four of them retroactively for actions taken in the past 90 days, Ross said.
Ross said this could amount to $1 billion in new tariffs, as well as $250 million in retroactive collections. All other Canadian softwood lumber companies will face the same tariff of 19.88 percent going forward.
Softwood lumber is a major export of Canada, which sold $5.8 billion in lumber to the United States last year, giving it about 31.5 percent of the U.S. market. It’s the fourth largest export from Canada to the United States after oil, gas and cars.
By Tim Portz
The combined export value of wood pellets, ethanol and biodiesel for U.S. producers has flirted with $3 billion since 2012, and depending upon how the final numbers shake out for last year, 2016 may very well be the year this milestone is surpassed. For both wood pellets and fuel ethanol, export numbers have never been higher than they are right now, and all three sectors are eyeing foreign markets as a means to significantly grow their businesses.
An analysis of the same data reveals key and informative differences. While foreign markets are an important part of the overall market picture for fuel ethanol and biodiesel producers, exports account for less than 10 percent of annual production while, from a volumetric perspective, wood pellet production in the U.S. is heavily reliant on foreign markets.
Now, the looming question is, what impact will a Trump administration, which campaigned on a promise to revisit the nation’s trade agreements, have on the export opportunities for each of these industries?
Global Market Leaders
In both the fuel ethanol and wood pellet categories, the U.S. can boast the largest production capacity and the largest share of the global export market. In both cases, U.S. exports outstrip the closest competitor by a wide margin. Wood pellet export volumes for U.S. producers were well over 4 million tons, while Canada has yet to surpass 2 million tons of exports. Brazil is the world’s second leading producer of fuel ethanol, and while production and export volumes there vary from year to year, in 2015, its export volumes were about half of what U.S. producers achieved. Additionally, Brazil is a prominent market for U.S. ethanol producers taking over 100 million gallons in 2015.
From the April issue of Biomass Magazine, this data-packed report from Forest2Market suggests existing North American infrastructure can light the way for biomass exporters.
By Stan Parton, Forest2Market
The industrial wood pellet industry is catching its breath after an astounding surge since the turn of the millennium. Global production of pellets totaled roughly 2 million metric tons (MT) in 2001, and roughly 28 million MT in 2015. As this market continues to evolve globally, it’s a good time to step back and analyze other U.S. forest product exports by region and type. This data can tell us a lot about raw material utilization, and help uncover new opportunities for biomass and wood pellet growth in foreign markets. New demand for industrial wood pellets is on the horizon, as directives from the Paris climate agreement begin to take effect, and Asian markets—particularly the South Korean and Japanese markets—represent new opportunities for U.S. producers.
Global softwood lumber trade increased 12 percent year-over-year to reach a new record-high of 121 million m3 in 2016, per estimates by WRI. Since the global financial recession in 2009, there has been a steady climb in international trade of lumber, with shipments the past seven years having increased as much as 66 percent.
Since the global financial recession in 2009, there has been a steady climb in international trade of lumber, with shipments the past seven years having increased as much as 66 percent. While it is no surprise that China is a major driver for the dramatic rise in lumber shipments worldwide the past seven years, it is interesting to note that the US has actually increased softwood lumber imports more than China.
Canada’s forest sector is vital to a strong Canadian economy. Enhanced collaboration between federal and provincial governments will help to keep our forest sector, and the workers and communities that depend on it, strong and resilient.
Today, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, announced the creation of the Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber, which will share information and analysis to understand potential impacts and assess how to address the needs of affected workers and communities. Minister Carr will chair the domestic task force, while Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, leads softwood engagement with the United States.
There has been ongoing engagement with the provinces, territories and industry over the past two years as the Government of Canada has sought to negotiate a new deal with the U.S. on softwood lumber. This is the next step in our strategic approach to this issue, which strengthens our ongoing efforts on a priority file for the Government. Canada believes that a negotiated agreement that brings predictability and stability to industry on both sides of the border is the best possible outcome. The Government will continue to work closely with provinces, territories and the softwood lumber industry to vigorously defend the interests of the middle-class Canadians who depend on the industry. This work will continue outside of the task force.
The new Federal–Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber will assess current federal and provincial programming and ensure coordination of government initiatives to promote innovation, market diversification and transformation of the forest sector.
The forest sector is an important part of Canada’s economy. It directly employs more than 200,000 people across Canada. Softwood lumber exports were valued at $8.6 billion in 2015 — close to 70 percent of which was exported to the U.S.
By ROSS MAROWITS
The head of Eastern Canada’s largest lumber producer said he is confident he can demonstrate to American authorities this month that the region deserves free and unencumbered access to the U.S. market.
The forestry sectors of Ontario and Quebec are modelled after the market-based systems in the U.S., and that should convince the U.S. Commerce Department that the region doesn’t engage in the unfair trade of softwood lumber, Resolute Forest Products Inc. CEO Richard Garneau said.
“So based on this, I think that we deserve the right to have access in Central Canada – in Quebec and Ontario – to the U.S. market,” he said in an interview after Resolute released its fourth-quarter and 2016 results.
The Montreal-based company was recently selected by the U.S. Commerce Department – along with B.C. companies West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., Canfor Corp. and Tolko Industries – to provide details on how they operate as part of its investigation into alleged unfair trade.
The producers are required to respond to a questionnaire by the end of the month. A U.S. auditor will then visit the four companies for follow-up.
Contact Hakan Ekstrom, Wood Resources International LLC
China imported record-high volumes of softwood lumber in 2016 and softwood log imports reached their second highest level on record. Despite relatively pessimistic forecasts for wood demand early in 2016, China’s need for imported wood picked up during the summer and fall with import volumes of both logs and lumber being up about 20% in the 4Q/16 as compared to the 4Q/15. Total importation of logs and lumber (in roundwood equivalents) reached almost 76 million m3 in 2016, which was up 17% from 2015, and almost 38% higher than five years ago, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).
Over the past decade, the importation of softwood lumber has grown much faster than that of softwood logs. From 2006 to 2016, lumber imports were up from just over two million m3 to over 21 million m3, while log import volumes were up from 20 million m3 to 34 million m3 during the same period.
From 2015 to 2016, Russia has increased its shipments of lumber to China by over three million to a total of 11.6 million m3 (this includes logs that have been canted to avoid log export taxes). With lumber markets in the Middle East and Northern Africa (the MENA countries) and Europe having been relatively weak the past few years, many sawmills in the Nordic countries have increased their presence in the Chinese market with shipments being up over 35% in 2016 from the previous year. Although lumber supply from Finland and Sweden still account for only six percent of the total lumber imports, the share can be expected to increase in the coming years because of more intense marketing of predominantly higher-quality spruce lumber for the Chinese furniture, millwork and construction industries.
By Hannes Lechner & John Dawson-Nowak
In 2016, the wood pellet market in Europe reached a size of 19 million tons per annum (Mtpa), while production capacity stood at 23.5 Mtpa, and consists of two largely independent sectors with only limited interaction. The industrial market is focused on large-scale bioenergy generation, while the premium market is focused on small-scale residential and commercial heat generation.
Besides more growth potential in the industrial market to 2025, the likely expansion of the premium sector post-2020 offers an opportunity for North American producers to soften the impact of predicted demand decline for industrial pellets post-2027.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled there is a reasonable indication that softwood lumber imports from Canada materially injure the U.S. industry. How significant is this ruling to the trade dispute between the two countries? Joshua Zaret, senior industry analyst for packaging, paper and paper products, Bloomberg Intelligence speaks on The Daily Brief. (Source: Bloomberg)
Contact Barbara Riley/Chuck Fuqua
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced 2017 advocacy priorities that include smarter regulations to unleash economic growth, comprehensive tax reform, efficient transportation, and trade policies that advance U.S. competitiveness. The association will pursue these over the coming year to support the paper and wood product manufacturing industry’s ability to create jobs and grow the economy.
AF&PA’s top advocacy priorities for the coming year:
Smarter Regulations to Grow the Economy: The cost, complexity, and volume of regulations disproportionately affects manufacturers. Regulations must be designed to provide net benefits based on the best scientific and technical information through a transparent and accountable rulemaking process, with due consideration of the cumulative regulatory burden. A top focus remains resolving the regulatory treatment of biomass carbon. In addition, we will work to stem the tide of overreach on air and water regulations affecting the industry, including modernizing the cumbersome air permit process and ensuring reasonable, science-based human health water quality criteria.
Comprehensive Tax Reform: Comprehensive reform of our tax system will improve economic growth, job opportunity, capital investment and the competitiveness of U.S.-based businesses and is critical. Lower tax rates are needed for all businesses, and reforms should support investment in US manufacturing while recognizing the complex global supply chains that make robust US manufacturing possible.
Transportation Efficiency: Our industry’s shipping functions must be globally competitive. Safely increasing truck weight limits on federal interstate highways and freight rail system rate and service improvements are necessary and have our support.
Trade: U.S. paper and wood product manufacturers need unrestricted access to international markets and a level playing field among international competitors through the elimination of both tariff and non-tariff barriers. Trade agreements that generate substantive economic benefit to U.S. forest products manufacturers and their workers should be maintained. Enforcement of trade agreements and laws that ensure all nations play by the rules so that trade flow are not arbitrarily distorted is essential.