By: The Working Forest Staff
THE ABBOTSFORD NEWS, — B.C. forest companies are heading into a winter of uncertainty as they deal with the B.C. government’s efforts to preserve more old-growth forest areas and the latest delay in the U.S. government’s imposition of steep border duties on Canadian softwood lumber.
The U.S. Commerce Department has extended its deadline for the latest preliminary ruling “anti-dumping” duties until Jan. 28, 2022, to provide more time to analyze sales and cost information from Canfor Corp. and West Fraser Mills, two of B.C.’s largest producers.
The postponement of the original Oct. 4 deadline is because the latest round is “extraordinarily complicated,” deputy assistant secretary James Maeder said in a memo announcing the delay. That leaves exporters with preliminary countervailing duty and anti-dumping tariff rates of more than 21 percent for Canfor, 11.4 percent for West Fraser, and 18.3 percent for other Canadian producers.
For the old-growth deferral areas announced last week, which could affect up to 26,000 square km of forests around the province, the industry is concerned about the outcome.
“The B.C. forest sector has been negatively impacted by ongoing constraints on the working forest that have eroded the global competitiveness of our industry,” Canfor CEO Don Kayne said in a statement.
The B.C. First Nations Forest Council objects to the short time frame for its members to assess the latest old-growth deferral area recommendations.
“First Nations have been given 30 days to review and respond to the proposed old-growth deferrals within their territories, the council said in a statement. “Nations are being brought into this process after the fact, and now the province is asking nations to hurry up and respond.”
In the latest issue of Truck Loggers Association magazine, forester and industry analyst Jim Girvan says a combination of the end of pine-beetle salvage, a severe 2021 wildfire season and the B.C. government’s move to split large forest management units into Indigenous-led landscape management areas is likely to have a severe impact on allowable timber cut and pulpwood supply.
“The B.C. forest industry, once the cornerstone of economic prosperity in B.C., has been beaten to the mat at the hands of pine beetles, softwood lumber, climate change, and environmental challenges,” Girvan writes. “With the industry employing fewer than half of the people it did in 2005 and the threat of even more significant job losses as the province tries to balance the needs of the industry against the often unfounded and misinformed calls for increased forest protection, it is time to push back, or the industry will fade and the province will suffer.”
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