U.S., Canada: Wood wars?
April 8, 2001
Mississippi's multi-billion-dollar forestry industry must have been weighing heavily on U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering last week when he endorsed a lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports. His action may very well be the beginning of a crusade to help protect Mississippians whose jobs and livelihoods depend on the timber business.
The lawsuit attempts to strike at Canada's lumber trade practices. Canadian lumber makes up 37 percent of the U.S. lumber market, Pickering said. The Canadian government owns 95 percent of the timberland in Canada and sells the timber to timber companies for one-fourth to one-third of its actual market value. Many experts believe the practice gives Canadian producers an advantage by forcing U.S. timber producers to compete against the treasury of the Canadian government.
The coalition wants U.S. authorities to impose a duty on Canadian lumber coming into the U.S.
One cannot understate the importance of forestry and forest products to Mississippi. Pickering is right to pursue a fair marketplace, which will keep government-subsidized lumber from Canada from flooding the already depressed U.S. market.