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Canadian lumber companies brace for US import tariffs

Workers sort and move lumber at the Delta Cedar Sawmill in Delta, B.C., on Friday January 6, 2017. The opening shot in a fifth softwood-lumber war between the United States and Canada is expected this week, and policy-makers north of the border are preparing to calculate the potential damage of American duties. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian lumber companies are bracing for tomorrow’s expected announcement on new import tariffs on softwood heading into the United States.

University of British Columbia professor Harry Nelson says the largest forestry companies — especially those in British Columbia — can withstand a long dispute with several years of import tariffs on softwood.

He says they have bigger cash reserves to help weather the storm and they also have other options outside US markets, such as China or India.

Quebec’s largest lumber company argues that BC’s largest producers have changed the playing field since the last softwood dispute by buying 39 sawmills in the United States, and could profit if the price for their US softwood goes up because of tariffs.