As the Trump administration enters its third week, it appears the first substantive action by the Trump administration on trade may be looming.1 Loud whisperings are that overdue anti-dumping tariffs against Canadian softwood lumber are set to be restored.
The core of the dispute is over the fact that low administratively determined stumpage fees charged by the Canadian government for harvesting timber are a de facto subsidy for timber production. The arrangement leads to cushy long term land tenure arrangements where Canadian lumber producers get to enjoy cheap trees and multi generational harvests for a pittance. By contrast the right to harvest timber in the United States is sold at market determined prices.
Beyond the market impact tariffs would have, they would create a substantial point of leverage in a future effort to renegotiate NAFTA.
Withdrawing from masturbatory talks about creating a treaty which isn't yet a treaty, is merely sanity. Not really substantive. ↩