This spring, the U.S. slapped countervailing duties on its imports of Canadian softwood lumber, followed by anti-dumping tariffs.

As August winds down, Canadian exporters are getting a brief reprieve, but the trade dispute is not over. Below is a brief update with some of the key softwood dates this fall:

August 25

The preliminary countervailing duties (20% average) expired, giving Canadian exporters a temporary reprieve. This is because according to U.S. law, preliminary countervailing duties can only be collected for four months. Canadian exporters are still paying the preliminary anti-dumping duties (average 6.87%), in effect since the end of June. Preliminary anti-dumping duties can be collected for up to six months – until the end of December.

August 28

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced he is delaying the final determination on both the countervailing and anti-dumping duties until no later than November 14. The final determination was supposed to occur September 6 – next week.

The final determination will basically set the rate for permanent duties (which can be lower or higher than the preliminary duties). Ross said he is delaying to give negotiators more time to reach a new softwood lumber agreement.

It’s important to note that the final determination can’t be delayed again, because the final determination for anti-dumping duties can only be delayed 135 days after the preliminary determination, which was made June 30.


At least until mid-November, Canadians exporting softwood lumber to the U.S. are paying lower duties, as they will only be charged the anti-dumping rate.

Naomi Christensen is a senior policy analyst at the Canada West Foundation