June 2006                 Volume 45,  Issue 5

      In the News

United States, Canada End Lumber Dispute

Since May 2002, the United States and Canada have been arguing over softwood lumber. The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed A 27-percent countervailing and anti-dumping duty after the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that there was a potential “threat” to U.S. lumber producers from Canadian lumber imports. However, at that time, the ITC also concluded that there was no evidence that Canadian lumber imports had harmed the U.S. industry. 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) also repeatedly ruled in favor of the United States in applying duties against subsidized and dumped Canadian lumber.

The end to the dispute began with a condolence call, according to an April 29 CBC News article by Steve Mertl of the Canadian Press. President George W. Bush telephoned Prime Minister Stephen Harper to express his regret for the deaths of four Canadian soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Afterward, talk turned to other subjects, including softwood lumber, according to the article.

“The call essentially green-lighted five days of feverish negotiations that suddenly put an agreement to end the long-standing trade dispute within reach,” the article stated.

Under terms of the agreement, the U.S. government would return Canadian companies about $4 billion of the nearly $5 billion in duties collected over the past four years.

“I am pleased to confirm that we have reached an agreement with the United States effectively ending our long-standing dispute over softwood lumber. The agreement outlines the terms for a fair and durable resolution and reflects Canada’s objectives and interests,” Canadian Trade Minister David Emerson said. 

“For the next seven to nine years, when lumber prices are over $355 per thousand board feet, no border measures will be imposed. If the softwood agreement were in place today, Canadian lumber would enter the United States without any restriction,” said Industry Minister Maxime Bernier. “When prices are lower, a province will be able to choose the export measure that works best for its industry. Moreover, any charges collected will remain in Canada.”

Many are happy that the lumber war has been ended.

Late on April 27, President Bush called Prime Minister Harper to congratulate him, according to an April 28 article by Associated Press writers Beth Duff-Brown and Matthew Daly.

“This agreement shows how NAFTA partners can overcome differences and work together,” Bush was quoted as saying in the article.

Harper was welcomed into the House of Commons in Ottawa with a standing ovation.

“It’s a good deal that resolves this long-standing dispute and allows us to move on. Today is a great day for Canada,” Harper said.

Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) has praised the agreement. 

“This dispute has hurt tens of thousands of Oregon workers who have been forced to compete against the Canadian government,” Smith said. “Producers on both sides of the border need stability to keep mills open, protect jobs and provide lumber to a huge market. Bringing this conflict to a resolution will help everyone who depends on the lumber industry from mill workers to homebuilders …” 

Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was quoted in a May first Buffalo News article by Associated Press writer Martin Crutsinger as saying that this closes the book “on a dispute that has poisoned U.S.-Canada relations for far too long.”

Senator Agriculture Committee chairperson Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) was quoted as saying, “Nothing has plagued the softwood lumber industry in my home state of Georgia more than this issue.”

But not everyone is so excited about this recent agreement.

Bill Graham, opposition leader of the Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament, said the deal was only beneficial for the U.S. lumber industry and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“Unfortunately, it’s a great day for American industry, for American policy and for American trade—and it’s a disaster for Canada and free trade,” Graham said in the article.

According to an April 27, article by Associated Press writer Beth Duff-Brown, “Opponents of the agreement want all of the tariffs returned to Canadian lumber companies."

Company News
CMI Employees Reach 11 Million Safe Work Hour Milestone

Employees of CMI’s Towanda, Pa., manufacturing plant surpassed 11 million safe work hours without a lost workday accident. The achievement is a safety milestone rarely attained in building products manufacturing. 

It has been nearly nine years since a lost-time incident occurred at the 17.5-acre plant. 
To help maintain its exceptional safety record, CMI employees participate in safety and health teams; develop behavior job analyses; identify and correct deficiencies; and attend mandatory monthly training meetings on chemical safety, hazard communication, fall protection, and other critical workplace activities.


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