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Category Archives: Business & Politics

Business & Politics

The US Court of International Trade Finds Commerce’s Ruling on Canadian Lumber Unlawful

Law360.com
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, United States

The U.S. Court of International Trade on Wednesday ordered the U.S. Department of Commerce to rethink its conclusion that certain cedar shakes and shingles made by Canada producers are subject to countermeasure tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports, saying that the determination is unlawful. Judge Jennifer Choe-Groves said that when the Commerce Department makes a determination on Whether an importer’s product is included in the scope of an anti-dumping or countervails duty order, the department must consider previous duty determinations made by Commerce and the US International Trade Commission, as  well as past scope rulings. [a Law360 subscription is required to access the full story]

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Diversity Disclosure Practices report – Forest products & paper industry

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada

Shannon Janzen

Every Canadian corporate sector has its share of stories about women pioneers who broke down barriers. …However, what’s instructive about the state of diversity in forest products and paper — where, through 2017, women made up just 17% of the total workforce — is that these stories are being told today by women still in the early and middle stages of their careers. Consider, for example, Shannon Janzen, vice-president and chief forester at Western Forest Products. …A more common narrative comes from Kate Lindsay, vice-president of sustainability at the Forest Products Association of Canada. …But even more encouraging, perhaps, is that the barriers seem to be breaking down. …Only a couple of years ago, for example, the forest products and paper industry ranked last among TSX-listed groups in overall percentage of women directors; today it’s in the top half. On the executive side, it’s even higher.

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Conifex Announces Third Quarter 2019 Results

By Conifex Timber Inc.
Global Newswire
November 15, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER, BC — Conifex Timber reported results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2019. Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations was negative $9.2 million for the quarter, which represented an improvement of $4.0 million over the second quarter of 2019, primarily attributable to increased operating earnings. A decrease in EBITDA from continuing operations of $12.8 million compared to the previous quarter was primarily attributable to a quarter-over-quarter negative variance on our gain from the sale of duty refunds. …“While we are encouraged by the $4.0 million improvement… we anticipate greater sequential improvement in the current quarter primarily due to cost elimination at our Fort St. James mill and cost reduction at our El Dorado mill”, said Ken Shields, Chairman and CEO. 

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High cost of logs hurting lumber mill workers throughout the Okanagan

By Rob Munro
InfoTel News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Mills throughout Tolko’s B.C. operations will be shut down for two weeks over Christmas the company announced Nov. 14, just a week after revealing the permanent closure of its Kelowna mill. …“Had there been viable cost logs coming into the mills that weren’t so highly-priced, that mill would still be running and still be making money,” Pat McGregor, president of United Steelworkers Local 1-423. “But because the cost of logs, which they’re telling us is over 75 per cent of their overall cost, the mill can’t run.” …The closure in Kelowna has a multi-million dollar economic impact to that city but the shutdowns and the uncertainties also impact other Okanagan towns, such as Armstrong, Lavington and Lumby. …Multiply that by the 200 union workers who lost their jobs in Kelowna and that adds up to an annual payroll of more than $12 million per year.

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Six BC mayors beg negotiators to get a deal done in ongoing forestry strike

By Renee Bernard
News 1130
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

PORT MCNEILL, BC — More than four months into a B.C. forestry workers strike, six mayors, mostly on Vancouver Island, have issued a letter describing how the job action has affected their communities. “As leaders of communities that are severely impacted by the Western Forest Products and United Steelworkers labour dispute, we are compelled to draw your attention to the economic devastation this dispute is causing for the families who live and work in our communities,” says the letter. …Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom was one of the mayors who put her name on the letter. …“It’s not just the forestry workers. They get strike pay, which is not a lot. But the contractors or businesses that rely the forestry industry – they are not getting anything and they are laying people off.”

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New Democrats have no plan, B.C. Liberal leader says

By Mark Nielsen
The Prince George Citizen
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Andrew Wilkinson

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is accusing the governing New Democrats of lacking a plan to guide the region – and the forest sector in particular – through the looming economic turmoil. “What’s the five-year plan in terms of where the economy is going to be?” Wilkinson said during a question and answer session with local media. “Because we’re in the midst of a lot of change here. He said such a plan should be drafted in anticipation of future industrial development and the changes that are occurring in the forest industry. …He accused the NDP of relying on “band aid programs” to ease the blow for the forest sector. …Wilkinson said the NDP is scrambling to make ends meet… and “living off the prosperity the B.C. Liberals generated.”

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City of Quesnel hosting open house at new Forestry Innovation Centre

BC Local News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The City of Quesnel is inviting the community to an open house in the newly constructed Forestry Innovation Centre at City Hall Saturday, Nov. 16. The Centre, which officially opened Sept. 18, is a flexible work environment designed to foster innovation and collaboration. It houses the City’s Forestry Initiatives Program, as well as showcases locally-made structural and finishing wood products, local artisan furniture and art installations. There is also an interpretive centre that explains landscape-level management, fuel management and the future of forestry. The Forestry Innovation Centre won a Wood Works Award, which recognizes the support of the B.C. wood industry. …Fuel management is a big part of the Forestry Initiatives Program’s work… the City is working with partners for fuel treatment on 59 hectares of land this fall as part of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

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Tolko to temporarily shut down B.C. lumber operations over holiday season

By Nick Eagland
The Vancouver Sun
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Forest-products firm Tolko Industries says it will be shutting down operations across B.C. for two weeks over the holiday season due to low lumber prices and high log costs. The Vernon firm made the decision to take the downtime from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6 after looking at log costs, market conditions and “cumulative policy burden”. The company also has divisions in Kamloops, Williams Lake, Armstrong, Coldstream, Lumby and Richmond. …Troy Connolly, vice-president for solid wood, said… it will reduce output by approximately 21 million board feet of lumber production and 10 million square feet of panel production. …In September, workers at Tolko’s Kelowna sawmill who were expecting to go back to work after a six-week shutdown learned that the facility was staying closed indefinitely. …Over the summer, Tolko also permanently closed its Quest sawmill in Quesnel with the loss of 150 jobs.

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Grants given to retrieve salvage wood fibre

By Mark Nielsen
The Prince George Citizen
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Ministry of Forests parliamentary secretary Ravi Kahlon was in Prince George on Wednesday to promote a mixture of new and ongoing projects to make better use of wood fibre that otherwise would have been burned as slash. …Kahlon said nearly $28 million in grants have been distributed to 38 projects through the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC). The FESBC is a provincial Crown agency created in 2016 to administer a program aimed at wildfire risk reduction, reforestation, forest rehabilitation, wildlife habitat restoration and raising awareness of the FireSmart program. Opposition forest critic John Rustad welcomed the news but added funding for the FESBC is running low. “The B.C. Liberals put $235 million into FESBC,” he said. “There is about $5 million left from that initial investment that we made…it’s concerning to see that this government refuses to put additional funding into FESBC.” Without additional funding, FESBC will close its doors in about two years, Rustad said.

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Striking WFP workers ‘hopeful’ as mediation continues

Chek News
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Fresh mediation talks are sparking optimism in the B.C. coast’s forestry communities after a four-and-half-month long strike. “I’m hoping that everything gets sorted out,” said striking Cowichan Bay Western Forest Products worker Murray Shiell. …“It’s feeling a little more promising, that they haven’t stepped away from the table, so hopefully no news is good news. ” said striking Chemainus WFP worker Greg Heyes.On Wednesday, WFP and United Steel Workers Local 1-1937 (USW)  met for a second straight day of mediation in Nanaimo to try and resolve the strike that is draining bank accounts and economic activity fast in coastal communities. …Due to a media blackout, neither side is commenting on the talks that continue.

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B.C. forest industry trade mission to Asia seeks to calm concerns about downturn

Canadian Press in Victoria Times Colonist
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Doug Donaldson

VICTORIA — A forest industry trade mission to Asia faces fewer political tensions this year than last December after the arrest of a top Chinese executive, but concerns about supply issues are now on the table, says British Columbia’s forests minister. …The arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last year prompted the minister to postpone his planned participation in a forestry trade mission to China. “Over the past year, time has cooled tensions between the countries on this diplomatic dispute, and so in Shanghai and with our customers and potential clients, the atmosphere was very good,” Donaldson said. …Donaldson said in talks with Japanese investors he emphasized the quality and amount of B.C. timber available despite these natural disasters. …But Donaldson is visiting Asia at a time when the province’s forest industry is struggling as mills are closing and hundreds of people are facing layoffs or plant closures.

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Forestry minister forges ahead in China, steers clear of diplomatic concerns

By Graeme Wood
The Vancouver Courier
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

B.C. Forestry Minister Doug Donaldson updated media on his trade mission to Japan and China. …Donaldson said he did not meet with any Chinese government officials on his Shanghai leg of the five-day trip that concludes Friday. Instead, meetings were held with construction businesses and industry representatives — although some of them were Chinese state-owned enterprises. “The focus of discussions was on future and current opportunities and the quality of wood products we’re supplying. There weren’t any political discussions,” said Donaldson, who cancelled a trip to China last December, a week after the RCMP arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. …However, since Donaldson cancelled, China went on to arrest Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. …Donaldson maintained his mission to Shanghai was economic.

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Union helping workers hit by Tolko mill closure

By Steve MacNaull
The Kelowna Daily Courier
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Now that the end is here for the Tolko lumber mill in Kelowna, the long process of sorting out severance, job finding, retraining and bridging to retirement begins. …Nothing will happen at the mill between now and the official shuttering date except decommissioning and cleanup. Technically, unionized workers are still on indefinite layoff until the official closure date of Jan. 8 rolls around. That means most of them remain on employment insurance, which provides 55% of average wage to a maximum of $562 a week. Once officially released from Tolko, Jan. 8 severance of two weeks’ pay for every year worked at the company should kick in. …Workers with 30-40 years at Tolko may be able to use the severance as a bridge to retirement. The provincial government’s $69-million forest worker support programs has a retirement bridging component, too, but McGregor said workers have to sacrifice their severance to tap into it.

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B.C. forest industry trade mission finding new markets in China

By Tom Fletcher
BC Local News
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

B.C. forest products continue to find a growing market in China as diplomatic tensions with Canada have eased, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says. Speaking to reporters from Tokyo on Wednesday, Donaldson said his delegation of 35 forest company executives completed their visit to Shanghai with good trade prospects, after attending the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum. High-grade B.C. wood producers are focused on furniture manufacturers as well as the more established Chinese markets of Whistler-style resort construction and wooden infill walls that reduce the country’s massive use of concrete and improve earthquake resilience. …The scale of the Chinese construction and urbanization is so vast that its annual floor space construction is equal to 1.4 times the size of Metro Vancouver each year, Donaldson said. …One of the mission’s goals in Japan this week is exploring further sales of B.C. wood pellets, as the country struggles to replace its nuclear power generation

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West of the oilsands, another sector is suffering its own ’existential crisis’ — in silence

By Gabriel Friedman
The National Post
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, it doesn’t much matter if it makes a sound. But if a sawmill closes in a remote BC town, the impact is all too real even if no one outside hears about it. That’s about what retired forester Jerry Canuel was thinking to himself in September when… they all descended on Vancouver… bring some attention to the troubled state of the province’s forestry sector.. …At least nine sawmills in B.C. this year have been shuttered while an estimated 47 others have cut shifts. …“Everyone thinks about the sawmills, and the people who work there, but it’s also contractors and people who deliver wood to the mill, mechanics, equipment sellers,” said Todd Chamberlain of the ILA. Unfortunately, forestry is experiencing an intense bust cycle, and it’s also one where the largest companies are seeking growth opportunities outside Canada, mainly in the U.S., further fuelling the sense of discord in the West.

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BC’s Asia Trade Mission Looks To Expand Markets

Darpan Magazine
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Doug Donaldson

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, will be joined by 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations as he leads his third forestry trade mission to Asia. From Nov. 10 to 15, 2019, delegates will meet with stakeholders to promote B.C.’s innovative wood products. B.C. exports 90% of its forest products, and China and Japan are B.C.’s largest markets outside of North America. China represents 28% of B.C.’s total forest product exports, while Japan is B.C.’s third-largest export market for lumber products. In Shanghai, at the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum, delegates will have the opportunity to meet with Chinese businesses to expand markets for B.C. wood products, particularly to the higher-value segment of Chinese markets where the superiority of B.C. wood is a clear advantage. …The Japan Home Show is also on the agenda, where tour delegates will view a full-scale resource and development demonstration centre that showcases Canadian wood in market-building innovations. 

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City of Powell River Council advocates for resolution to current forestry strike

By Paul Galinski
The Powell River Peak
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

George Doubt

City of Powell River will be urging Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers to get back to the bargaining table to resolve the current strike. At the Thursday, November 7, council meeting, councillors reviewed a draft letter that will be signed by a number of mayors from coastal communities, citing the lack of progress in bargaining as being “very concerning to us as community leaders,” according to the draft. Acting mayor George Doubt said the strike has been affecting many communities on Vancouver Island and the coast. He said there had been a string of communications among mayors from Port McNeill, North Cowichan, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Port Alice, Port Alberni, Sayward, Tahsis and Ladysmith. …Doubt said the mayors are not taking sides in the issue.

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Organizers of logging convoy meet with Thompson-Nicola Regional District

By Jessica Wallace
Kamloops this Week
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Merritt log haulers who organized a truck convoy in support of B.C.’s forestry industry were at the Thompson Nicola Regional District Thursday to continue advocacy efforts. Frank Etchart and Howard McKimmom led a 17-kilometre-long convoy with 200 trucks and hundreds of other vehicles from Merritt to downtown Vancouver on Sept. 25, …for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. “Frank and I are prepared to take this to every community in British Columbia,” McKimmom told KTW. “We will go to council for every small community in B.C. that’s affected. We’re set out to make every business and every person in every community aware of what’s happening.” The pair are lobbying for changes to B.C.’s Forest Act, including reduced stumpage fees and timber supply tenure. They argue big companies should not be able to sell timber rights when they shut down in small communities. 

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Parliamentary secretary’s statement on Tolko Industries lumber mill closure

By Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
Government of British Columbia
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, has released the following statement in response to the permanent closure of the Tolko Industries lumber mill in Kelowna: “I was disappointed to hear of the permanent closure of the Tolko lumber mill and the uncertainly workers will now have about their future. At the same time, I want people to know that this government is working hard to make sure support is delivered to forestry workers, contractors and communities like Kelowna that have been affected. “I want the people of Kelowna to know that Tolko mill workers impacted by the closure can access forest worker support programs online through the government’s web portal. “The web portal includes the latest information and application details for the retirement bridging program, the forest employment program, community support grants and training opportunities and funding.”

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Tolko Kelowna mill closure marks end of the line for decades-old facility

By Rafferty Baker
CBC News
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The Tolko Industries lumber mill near the heart of Kelowna had been operating since the Great Depression, but now nearly 90 years later, it’s being permanently shut down, as more than 170 workers got severance notices this week. The company, which bought the mill in 2004, announced on Friday that an indefinite mill closure that began in August, will be permanent. “It’s never a good thing when we lose 200 good-paying jobs,” said Pat McGregor, president of United Steelworkers 1-423. …Workers who had been in limbo for months now have certainty about their future but the news isn’t good. …The mill was built in 1932, when Kelowna had fewer than 5,000 residents — now more than 130,000 people live there. “Kelowna is sort of built around the mill,” said McGregor. “I mean, you had third and fourth generation workers at that mill and there won’t be a fifth or sixth generation, and that’s not good.”

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Tolko closing Kelowna mill forever

By Steve MacNaull
The Daily Courier
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

On Friday morning, managers somberly gathered at the Tolko office in Kelowna to call 140 workers one by one to tell them the lumber mill will close forever Jan. 8. “Calling each employee was important with news like this,” Tolko communications adviser Chris Downey told The Okanagan Weekend. “Our HR team was also on site to help workers. We’re telling them how severance and benefits will be paid and referring them to programs like the ones at WorkBC.” While Friday’s news was official and devastating, the writing had been on the wall for months. On July 12, Tolko permanently scrapped its second shift at the Kelowna mill, putting 90 people out of work. The 140 staff on the remaining shift endured a six-week shutdown Aug. 6 to Sept. 15, only to be told an indefinite closure would start Sept. 15.

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Local MLA blames NDP’s negligence for Tolko shutdown

By Josh Duncan
Kelowna Now
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Ben Stewart

It was announced today that Tolko’s Kelowna-based mill would be shutting down for good in January.  Ben Stewart, the Liberal MLA for Kelowna West, says that British Columbia’s NDP government has failed to do anything to prevent it, not only in Kelowna but all over the province. “The bottom line is the government has been completely negligent and silent in terms of what they see is the problem,” Stewart told KelownaNow. “They keep telling people that it’s a mid-term timber supply and that there was going to be closures, and that’s right, but the bottom line is it’s past that point now.” Stewart says it started with the softwood lumber tariffs implemented by the United States a little over a year ago, giving Tolko less of a margin to work with. 

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B.C. government won’t say why it’s sending minister to China amidst diplomatic row

Glacier Media in Kamloops Matters
November 9, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

The B.C. government is remaining mum about its decision to send B.C.’s forestry minister Doug Donaldson to China on a trade mission next week amidst a significant Sino-Canadian diplomatic row. The government announced Friday Donaldson, Minister of Forests… “will be joined by 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations as he leads his third forestry trade mission to Asia.” The Nov. 10 to 15 mission includes a stop in Shanghai for the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum. However, it was last December when Donaldson cancelled his China leg of a trade missionfollowing the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. … The diplomatic situation appears as hostile as ever; this includes the incarceration of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, since Donaldson cancelled his last trip. The arrests are perceived by many Canadians and political experts to be retaliation by China.

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Western Forest Products, striking union start talks

By Andrew Duffy
Victoria Times Colonist
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products and its unionized workers will head back to the bargaining table Tuesday… Western released a bleak financial report …Year-to-date the tale, exacerbated by difficult markets in the U.S. and Japan, was worse with a net loss of $17.5 million compared to a profit of $3.9 million in the first nine months of 2018. Western chief executive Don Demens said the strike and difficult markets have contributed to the financial situation, though he stressed “most of the erosion in performance is driven by the markets.” …Still, Demens said: “I think we all know where the settlement zone is.” He wants to dispel the notion that Western has not wanted to bargain or has been intransigent in its bargaining position — a refrain heard often during Thursday’s rally. “We had made an offer to go to binding arbitration. I think that squelches the idea that we are not willing to talk about all issues,” he said.

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Interfor’s $35.6 million Q3 loss includes writedowns, B.C. restructuring costs

Canadian Press in CKPG Today
November 8, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

VANCOUVER — Interfor Corp. says it had a $35.6-million net loss in the third quarter, which included write-downs related to the permanent closure of a sawmill in Maple Ridge, B.C., as well as restructuring costs at its B.C. Coastal business. The loss amounted to 53 cents per share and included $14 million of non-cash asset impairments at the Hammond sawmill and $17.8 million in expenses related to human resource matters and the retirement of CEO Duncan Davies. Davies will retire at the end of the year and be replaced on Jan. 1 by Ian Fillinger, the company’s chief operating officer. The August announcement of Interfor’s CEO succession plan was followed on Sept. 3 with a decision to permanently close the Hammond sawmill by the end of 2019 after its log and lumber inventories have been processed.

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Western Forest Products and Steelworkers to Resume Mediation

By Mike Patterson
My Cowichan Valley Now
November 11, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada, Canada West

Western Forest Products and its striking workers are making another attempt to break the deadlock contract talks. The company and United Steelworkers, Local 1-1937 have agreed to resume mediation in Nanaimo Tuesday. This comes after efforts to end the strike stalled on October 20th. …At the end of October, WFP said that it was ready to adjust its positions and asked the union if it would agree to binding arbitration. USW Local 1-1937 rejected that offer the same day. It followed up, however, by writing to WFP to say that since the company had changed its “no movement” position and was prepared to make changes, they should ask the mediators for new meeting dates.

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Cascades Inc. announces proposed private offering

By Cascades Inc.
Cision Newswire
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: Canada East, Canada

KINGSEY FALLS, QC — Cascades… announced that it intends, subject to market and other conditions, to offer US$300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2026, US$300 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2028 and Cdn$175 million aggregate principal amount of senior notes due 2025 in a private offering. …The Notes of each series will be guaranteed by each of the Company’s existing and future U.S. and Canadian restricted subsidiaries. …The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes to (i) redeem all of its outstanding US$400 million… senior notes due 2022 and Cdn$250 million …senior notes due 2021 and repay certain amounts outstanding under its revolving credit facility.

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Sappi halts dividends as trade wars hurt prices of key pulp

By John Bowker
Bloomberg Business
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

Sappi Ltd. halted dividend payments after the impact of the U.S. trade war with China triggered a collapse in the price of dissolving wood pulp — the South African company’s main product. Depressed prices of the substance used in a range of items … with declines extending into the final quarter of the calendar year, Sappi said in a statement on Thursday. The Johannesburg-based company is the world’s biggest producer of the pulp, with about 16% of the global market. The shares fell as much as 5.4.% to 34.22 rand as of 10:32 a.m. in Johannesburg, and are close to 5 1/2 year lows. …Sappi has invested heavily in the pulp, which it makes in South Africa and North America. …A weaker Chinese textile market, excess capacity of viscose staple fiber and a weaker renminbi exchange rate all helped drive prices to historic lows.

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U.S. Raises Prospect of Blocking Passage of WTO Budget

By Bryce Blaschuk
Bloomberg Economics
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, International

The Trump administration ratcheted up its pressure on the World Trade Organization by raising the possibility of blocking the approval of the institution’s biennial budget and effectively halting its work starting next year. …The U.S. also expressed its concerns about funding being diverted to a proxy dispute settlement system recently championed by the European Union, Canada and Norway, the people said. …If the U.S. unilaterally kills off funding, it could imperil the future of the WTO’s work and force countries to fundamentally rethink their reliance on it to negotiate trade deals and settle the surging number of disputes. …About a dozen appeal cases are pending, including… a pair of U.S.-Canadian disputes over paper and softwood lumber. Canada, the EU and Norway have already agreed to set up an alternate channel for settling trade disputes in order to sidestep the looming deadlock.

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Hardwood industry pleads with Washington for trade war relief

By Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Network
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States

WASHINGTON – Made up of 28 U.S. trade and hardwood associations, the Hardwood Federation says the industry has seen a dramatic impact since the start of the trade war, and it plans to amp up pressure on lawmakers. Nathan Jeppson, CEO of Northwest Hardwoods, will meet this week with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to push for relief, reports The Hill. …The Hardwood Federation has sent a proposal for a relief package to the administration in October but has not heard back. …The Federation says the hardwood industry employs about 2 million people in the U.S. Sawmills tend to be family-owned and located near timberlands in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and South. …The export council says the value of U.S. hardwood lumber exports have dropped 57 percent since the start of the trade war to $54 million as of August.

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Alaskan Tribal Leaders to Testify Before Congress in Battle to Stop Trump Administration Lifting Logging Restrictions in America’s Largest National Forest

By Aristos Grergiou
Newsweek
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

On Wednesday, Alaskan tribal leaders, environmentalists and fishermen will testify at a hearing, voicing their concerns over the potential lifting of environmental restrictions in the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the largest national forest in the U.S.—covering an area of around 16.7 million acres—and, indeed, one of the largest intact temperate forests in the world. The hearing on Wednesday—held by the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Land—revolves around the so-called “Roadless Rule,” which was introduced in 2001. Native American groups who live in the area and rely on the forest say its removal could have potentially devastating consequences for their way of life. …Aside from the impact on local tribes and the fact that there may be little economic benefit as a result of the Roadless Rule exemption, critics say there could be severe environmental consequences if the forest is opened up to further logging.

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Oregon council predicts wildfire costs to hit tens of billions

KTVZ Oregon
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: United States, US West

Kate Brown

The Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response released its report Tuesday, predicting the overall cost of extended wildfire seasons will exceed tens of billions of dollars over the next 20 years. Studies suggest the comprehensive costs of wildfire are, on average, 11 times greater than the immediate costs of firefighting. With firefighting costs exceeding $500 million during high-fire seasons, comprehensive costs to Oregonians can total several billion dollars in a single year. The indirect costs of wildfires are high, too—according to another report, the health costs caused by wildfire smoke in Oregon in 2012 was over $2 billion. Governor Brown… created the council through executive order in January, tasking them to compile comprehensive recommendations and a cohesive strategy to deal with the increasing difficulties posed by wildfires and smoke, tailored specifically to the challenges faced in Oregon.

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Resolute Forest Products closing its doors

Fox 54 News
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – Another manufacturing facility is closing its doors. This time, it’s in South Augusta. Resolute Forest Products announced Thursday, Nov. 14, that they will be idling their facility on Doug Bernard Pkwy, indefinitely. The facility employs 160 people. Resolute Forest Products said the decision was based on “continued challenging market conditions” in the newsprint industry. They said this decision comes after the mill saw “several weeks of production downtime” this year. …”We understand the impact this decision will have on our employees, their families and the local community. The company will work with employees and community representatives to mitigate the impacts of the decision.” …A representative said they will be working to provide benefits and outplacement services to the employees.

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Irving Tissue Officially Opens $470 Million Tissue Production Plant in Macon, Georgia

By J.D. Irving, Limited
Paper Age
November 14, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Irving Tissue’s newest $470 million tissue plant is officially open in Macon, Georgia and based on a new, additional $400 million investment, will soon double its capacity. The announcement was made at the new plant where Irving Tissue President Robert K. Irving was joined by Georgia Lieutenant-Governor Geoff Duncan, Macon- Bibb-County Mayor Robert Reichert, MCBIA Chairman Robert Fountain Jr. and other dignitaries to celebrate both the official opening of the plant and yet another major investment by Irving Tissue in the community. “It is a great day for Macon, the state of Georgia and Irving Tissue. We’re pleased to be expanding our business in the United States. …Our customers’ enthusiastic support of its state-of-the-art technology has meant that our new plant is already at capacity, so we’re thrilled to announce the second phase of this expansion project,” said Robert K. Irving, President of Irving Tissue. 

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Ron DeSantis: USDA Helping Florida Timber Industry Recover From Hurricane Michael

Florida Daily
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is sending $800 million to Alabama, Florida and Georgia and almost of those funds will be used to help the timber industry in the Panhandle which was devastated by Hurricane Michael last year. At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the USDA has awarded $380 million in grant funding for Florida’s timber industry which is still recovering from Hurricane Michael. The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and the Executive Office of the Governor will oversee the funds. “This is a great day for our timber farmers who were devastated by Hurricane Michael,” said DeSantis. “Since January, I’ve worked closely with President Trump and Secretary Purdue to ensure that our farmers were receiving as much assistance as possible. …Now that this funding has been awarded, we look forward to helping these farmers recover, replant and rebuild.”

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Verso agrees to sell Jay mill as part of $400 million deal

By Lori Valigra
Bangor Daily News in Maine Public
November 12, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: US East, United States

Just three months after saying it planned to invest $120 million into three mills, Verso Corp. said Tuesday that it will sell two of those mills, including the Androscoggin Mill in Jay. The company said it has a definitive agreement to sell the Jay mill and its Stevens Point mill in Wisconsin to Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC for $400 million. The sale is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020. The sale, which has been unanimously approved by the company’s board of directors, is subject to approval from the company’s stockholders and certain regulatory and other customary approvals. “We have undergone a thorough and comprehensive strategic process and firmly believe that the sale of these two mills at the agreed-upon terms and conditions is in the best interests of the company and our stockholders,” Gene Davis, co-chairman of the board, said in a statement.

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Boat of Garten sawmill could lose 22 jobs, says owner BSW

BBC News
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Up to 22 jobs could go at a sawmill in the Cairngorms, its owners have warned. BSW said its site at Boat of Garten had been affected by “very difficult trading conditions” caused by a downturn in sales activity. The company said it expected most staff affected to leave with redundancy pay. Family-owned BSW, which has its headquarters in Earlston in Berwickshire, is one of the UK’s largest forestry businesses. The firm said it was proposing to restructure timber production at Boat of Garten and transfer the majority of some operations to another site. In a statement, BSW said: “This will help to more economically convert production, consequently improving the financial figures at BSW, Boat of Garten. “This may result in potentially reducing the headcount by up to 22 people across the site, most of whom will be by reason of redundancy.

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Latvia’s IKTK invests 2 mln euro in glued laminated timber structures plant

By Kristine Stalidzane
The Baltic Times
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

Maris Peilans

The Latvian timber building structures producer IKTK has invested about two million euro in large-sized glued laminated timber structures production plant, the company’s representatives told LETA. The company has built a new production plant and acquired high precision timber processing equipment. The modern technologies, including CNC type machines for complicated precision processing of timber components, have already been tested and put into operation. …IKTK manufactures large-scale glued laminated timber beams and cross-laminated timber structures. The plant also produces building components according to custom contracts. Glued laminated timber structures manufactured by IKTK are used in exclusive bridges, buildings and constructions in Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. 

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‘Lives at risk’: Liberals say logging ban poses mental health threat

By Charlotte Grieve and Benjamin Preiss
The Sydney Morning Herald
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

The opposition has accused the Andrews government of putting timber workers’ lives at risk after abolishing native forest logging, sparking an impassioned exchange in the Victorian Parliament on Wednesday. …deputy leader of the state Liberal Party Cindy McLeish asked what percentage of this [support] package would go towards supporting affected workers’ mental health. …Ms McLeish then quoted a timber contractor from Millgrove who said: “There will be suicides.” She quoted the contractor as saying: “No one wants to come out and say it, but you can’t rip apart someone’s town, livelihood and community and think everyone can just get on with it. This is life-destroying.” …Nationals MP Stephanie Ryan, said: “Livelihoods are going to be destroyed. This is not cheap politics. If the minister doesn’t know the intricacies of those logging contractors who are going to lose their jobs as a consequence of his government’s policy, then he isn’t fit to be minister.”

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Trade deals tether New Zealand to calm, predictable shores

By David Parker, NZ Trade and Export Growth Minister
Stuff.co.nz
November 13, 2019
Category: Business & Politics
Region: International

David Parker

The Employers and Manufacturers Association described as a historic 24 hours the settling last week of two trade agreements boosting prospects for the economy and for exporters. The successful outcome of talks to upgrade the China free trade agreement and the agreement on the text of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) were milestones for our trade policy. But they also represent huge strategic as well as commercial value to New Zealand. The China upgrade… lowers barriers for our wood and paper products… and includes a commitment to environmental protections. …Meanwhile, under the RCEP deal virtually all market access issues have been agreed between 15 countries. …The grouping takes 61 per cent of our goods exports. [The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam and Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea].

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