Thursday, March 31, 2005

Softwood Lumber disputes....kuuul...

For as long as I have been alive (some four and a half decades I guess) there has been a dispute on Canadian lumber being sent to the US. There is HUGE US lumbering lobby which has always hated the competition, and have, for the last century or so, demanded AND RECEIVED huge duties to be paid by anybody with the guts to send lumber Stateside. Yup, you heard that right...the duties are collected at the border, and sent directly to US lumber interests. Not to General Revenue as you might suppose! Note please that this does not lower the price of a house....actually, it keeps the price up nice and anybody who has purchased a couple of two by fours in the last couple of years can testify to.

Now the reason why I find this whole thing so kuul is the simple fact...THERE ARE NO CANADIAN LUMBER INDUSTRIES!!! Yeah, seems MacMillan Bloedel is wholely owned by Werehouser Corp. Beaver Lumber got bought up by Builder's Warehouse, and in fact, only 8 percent of lumber sold in Canada is cut and sold by Canadian companies. And none of the lumber being shipped to the states comes from a Canadian company. So all these duties supposedly paid by the Canadians is actually being paid by the American subsidiary. Essentially, they pay a stiff duty at the border, and get it back from Uncle Sam the following week. This keeps the prices up, and their fat profits rolling in! No damned wonder there has been no movement on the softwood lumber dispute in the last half century!

So get this...the Canadian government has decided that what works for the Goose also works for the Gander! So it is slapping big duties onto cigarettes (hah! no surprise there!, big tobacco is always a fair target) oysters (like we don't catch our own....well, subsidies to our fishing industry is pretty normal too) and live pigs. Well, they don't want our cows, which keeps their prices up, so we stop bringing in porkers, which should keep the price up here in Canada.

Sounds like a win win situation, the only person losing is anyone who wants to build a house, or salt down a pig!

Cut and past follows of part of this article....
(CP) - Canada has turned up the pressure on its largest trading partner, slapping rarely used sanctions on the United States to force an end to an internationally condemned trade law.

The stakes are high: if Ottawa fails in this fight against the U.S. law known as the Byrd amendment, Canadian softwood lumber producers stand to lose more than $4 billion in duties paid so far in the longrunning trade dispute.

Even worse, the Byrd amendment would then hand all those Canadian payments over to their American lumber competitors.

To pressure Washington, Ottawa announced Thursday it will slap a 15 per cent surtax on cigarettes, oysters, live swine and some fish imports from the U.S., effective May 1.

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