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Ottawa dishes out millions in early softwood refunds

The federal government has disbursed an initial $950-million in softwood lumber duty refunds to Canadian companies, as outlined in a trade deal with the United States, the Trade and Industry Ministries said yesterday. Ottawa has created a special mechanism through Export Development Canada to speed up the cash payments to companies while it awaits the official refund from Washington. Tembec Inc. said yesterday it has received $242-million (U.S.) of its duty refund, which represents "substantially all" of the funds it expects to be returned. "The refunds are going out ahead of schedule, and companies can realize the benefits of this agreement," said Trade Minister David Emerson. The deal calls for total duty refunds of $4.3-billion of the $5.3-billion in U.S. duties Canadian producers paid during the trade dispute. TBC (TSX) rose 5 cents to $1.43. Reuters

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