On May 7, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce published notice of its periodic request for comments on subsidy programs provided by countries exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States. Commenters have 30 days from today – or until June 6, 2018 – to submit written materials or commentary regarding (1) the country providing the subsidy; (2) the name of the subsidy program; (3) a brief description of the subsidy program; and (4) the government body or authority that provided the subsidy. All comments should be filed via regulations.gov with reference to Docket No. ITA-2018-0002.
Commerce’s request for comments relates to its reporting obligation under section 805 of Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, under which Commerce reports to Congress every six months on subsidies provided to softwood lumber for export to the United States. A large number of countries export softwood lumber to the United States, and Commerce therefore requests comments only on the countries accounting for at least one percent of total U.S. imports. Those countries for the July 2017 – December 2017 period were Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Sweden.
U.S. customs data shows that other significant exporters of softwood lumber to the United States include New Zealand, and Chile. Softwood lumber imports from China are also on pace to increase by volume in 2018, as compared with 2018.
Historically, Commerce’s investigations into unlawful subsidies for softwood lumber have focused on Canadian programs. Information collected as part of Commerce’s reporting will be publicly accessible and could form the basis of new investigations and potential countervailing duties.