Trump Admin Targets Softwood Lumber While Keeping Sights on Canadian Dairy

The Trump administration expressed its displeasure with Canadian dairy policy several times on Monday, coinciding with the announcement of new countervail duties on imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

“It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in a statement. “Last Monday, it became apparent that Canada intends to effectively cut off the last dairy products being exported from the United States. Today, in a different matter, the Department of Commerce determined a need to impose countervailing duties of roughly one billion dollars on Canadian softwood lumber exports to us. This is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement.”

Exporters of softwood lumber from Canada will face tariffs ranging from 3 to 24 percent.

“The Government of Canada will vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, including through litigation. In ruling after ruling since 1983, international tribunals have disproved the unfounded subsidy and injury allegations from the U.S. industry. We have prevailed in the past and we will do so again,” said Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, and Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in response.

Speaking to a group of conservative media on Monday, President Trump reportedly said he wants to act on Canadian dairy too, although it’s unclear he understands that Canada exports very little milk to the U.S.

“We’re going to start doing lumber in our country, it’s going to mean that farmers are going to start selling milk in our country,” Trump said, according to a report from Breitbart News.

The president’s pick for agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, was also sworn in on Monday. Politico has reported Perdue could be headed to Wisconsin, the state at the centre of the dairy trade dispute, later this week.

Meanwhile, Trump is scheduled to meet with American farm group representatives on Tuesday. It’s expected he will sign an executive order creating a taskforce that will have 180 days to write a report on impediments hindering growth in agriculture and rural communities.

Related: Canadian Ambassador Rejects Dairy Criticism from U.S.

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