Business

Trade tribunal says duties must remain on dumped U.S. drywall imports

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal is ruling that barriers to cheap American drywall imports into Western Canada must continue.

Variable duties to be charged on imports that fall below a floor price set by CBSA

In September, Canada slapped a provisional tariff of up to 276 per cent on U.S. drywall imported for use in construction in Western Canada. A ruling issued Wednesday will see those duties replaced with variable duties. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal is ruling that barriers to cheap American drywall imports into Western Canada must continue.

Preliminary duties of up to 276 per cent imposed last September are blamed by industry for price increases of 30 to 50 per cent on the construction material used extensively in commercial and residential buildings.

The tribunal ruled Wednesday that American imports dumped in Canada have injured the Canadian industry. Its ruling means preliminary duties will be replaced with variable duties to be charged on imports that fall below a floor price established by the Canada Border Services Agency last month.

The tribunal ruled that the imposition of preliminary duties "in its full amount" is contrary to Canada's economic, trade or commercial interests, and could hurt competition in the market and affect consumers and businesses.

The tribunal recommended that the federal government could grant a special "remission" equal to the dumping duties on imported drywall used specifically in the post-wildfire reconstruction efforts in the region of Fort McMurray, Alta.

Melissa Blake, the mayor of Fort McMurray, has asked Ottawa to offer grants to help property owners recover increased costs related to the drywall duties as they rebuild parts of the northern Alberta city destroyed by fire last spring.

Prices for drywall, a building material considered vital to replace 1,800 houses and dozens of other structures destroyed by the wildfire, had risen dramatically since Canada brought in the duties.

Claude Bureau, owner of Genroc Drywall in Fort McMurray, said he is paying wholesale suppliers about $4.60 more per four-by-12-foot sheet of drywall now compared with the price before duties were imposed. He said he has had to raise his price including installation by $1.25 per square foot, adding about $1,750 to the cost of building a typical 1,400-square-foot house.

The duties were opposed by American drywall exporters and by the Canadian construction industry, but supported by CertainTeed Gypsum Canada — the only remaining manufacturer of drywall in Western Canada and the company that lodged the dumping complaint.

CertainTeed had warned that allowing U.S. imports to continue into Canada at prices lower than in their home markets could lead to it closing its three Western Canada drywall plants and two gypsum quarries at a loss of more than 200 jobs. It says it has hired 30 new employees since the duties were imposed.

with files from CBC News

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