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BC mills could see layoffs if the US imposes softwood duties

(iStock Photo)

A professor at UBC says BC will take a hit if the US introduces tarriffs

He adds forestry is a major industry in BC

WASHINGTON, DC. (NEWS 1130) – We’re hearing our country will continue to negotiate with the US on a new softwood lumber deal, as the one-year standstill agreement comes to an end. The big question is — will this situation lead to job losses at mills in this province?

Assistant Professor Harry Nelson with UBC’s Department of Forest Resources Management says it’s a possibility if the US imposes duties.

“That might be enough for a company to say, you know what, it doesn’t make sense to keep this mill afloat,” says Nelson. “There’s always the concern, with how the duties come down, the level of those duties, sometimes they can really impact smaller producers.”

He adds forestry remains a major BC industry, although doesn’t employ as many people as it did at its peak. “It’s still relatively big in terms of the economic value that it generates,” says Nelson. “It’s shrunk to some degree in relative importance as the rest of the economy has grown, and the other part of it too, with some of the changes in technology, employment has decreased substantially.”

Representatives from the Canadian and US governments are discussing this further in Washington, DC.

The 2006 softwood lumber agreement expired a year ago but that standstill period kicked in to allow both countries to come to some sort of resolution. The expiry of the standstill period means the US could begin the process of imposing tariffs on Canadian lumber imports.