Since the Softwood Lumber Agreement of 2006 expired, Altemus said it was “free for all”.

“We’ve been at an impasse for some time,” she said. “The Canadian government somewhat imposed its own tariff, knowing full well that the United States would eventually impose a tariff, which helped stabilize lumber prices. But the fact that the US dollar is so much better, Canadians can make money.

Altemus said the Commerce Department is expected to impose the 20 percent tariff in June to accompany the countervailing duty.

“It should probably be over 20%,” she said. “We always assumed it would be around 20% tariff. This is what we expected. We agree with that. It’s better than what we have now, which is free for everyone.

In 2015, Montana’s lumber industry lost about 500 jobs when the softwood lumber agreement expired, allowing Canadian companies to gain more market share. Canadian companies have also purchased at least 50 American sawmills in the past 12 years. Before that, they didn’t have one.

Altemus said the Montana wood products industry has been particularly affected by the influx of Canadian products.

“We grow the same trees and make the same products,” she said. “When the Chinese market dried up, the easiest transportation route was to the United States. It really hurt Montana, absolutely.”


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