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Unifor slams latest U.S. softwood lumber duties

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Amendments to the U.S.-imposed duties on softwood lumber exports doesn't change the crisis facing Canada's forestry industry, says Unifor.

“Nothing changes today [Nov. 2]. The tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber are outrageous,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Thursday.

“We expect our government's response to be bold and confident,” he added.

“Forestry communities deserve nothing less.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Thursday it would lower the combined countervailing and anti-dumping rate to 20.83 percent from 26.75 percent.

Conservative estimates suggest that sustained 25 percent combined duties could yield a loss of 25,000 Canadian jobs.

Unifor said the $867-million forestry industry aid package announced by the Canadian government in May will help cushion the blow, but it is not a long-term solution.

“Our forestry industry needs a new softwood agreement that defends good jobs and strengthens Canadian competitiveness,” said Scott Doherty, executive assistant to the Unifor national president.

“It's very unlikely these tariffs will stand up to legal scrutiny so Canada should negotiate from a position of strength,” he stressed.

In 2002, the U.S. government imposed similar tariffs but international trade tribunals consistently have overruled American duties on Canadian lumber.

While Unifor is confident the new U.S. duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.

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