Cedar shakes and dormer windows
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The U.S. Commerce Department has rejected a request by Canadian makers of cedar shakes and shingles to exclude them from the tariffs on softwood lumber that Washington imposed in January.

The decision made public Sept. 10 by the International Trade Administration (ITA) concludes that cedar shakes and shingles are covered by the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued against Canadian softwood lumber on Jan. 3. Those tariffs on U.S. imports of the Canadian lumber average 20.2%.

While most commodity lumber from Canada has been subject to duties on and off for decades, the Jan. 3 orders were the first time cedar shakes and shingles had seen a U.S. tariff since 1991, Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper reported today. Shakes and shingles from the Maritime provinces remain excluded, but the same product from elsewhere--particularly British Columbia--are subject to the penalties.

ITA's decision stirred resentment among Canadian producers.

"It's pretty frightening, and I'm still in shock," Hugh Farris, a sales representative at Best Quality Cedar Products In Maple Ridge, British Columbia, told the Globe and Mail. "The Commerce Department disregarded us. It seems outrageous."

On June 12, a Canadian trade group called the Shake and Shingle Alliance asked ITA to rule on whether cedar shakes and shingles from Canada deserved to be part of the softwood lumber duties. A back-and-forth debate ensued over such issues as:

  • whether cedar shakes and shingles are a finished product (which are excluded from the tariffs);
  • whether they are sawn lengthwise;
  • whether pre-painted shakes and shingles should be excluded;
  • whether shims should be excluded because part of them is thinner than 6 millimeters; and
  • whether the U.S. government's softwood lumber orders even envisioned included cedar shakes and shingles given that they aren't mentioned specifically.

ITA, in essence, said none of the Canadians' arguments held water.

The Shake and Shingle Alliance is now examining its options for an appeal, the Globe and Mail reported.