OTTAWA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Canada said on Monday it has reduced anti-dumping duties on U.S. drywall imports being used in Western Canada following criticism that the cost of the material was hampering recovery efforts in northern Alberta after last year's wildfires.
An official Canadian trade panel said last month that U.S. firms had dumped drywall in Canada, but that maintaining duties of up to 276.5 percent would harm businesses, consumers and the country's trade interests.
The Finance Department said it was reducing minimum import prices, which are used to calculate duties, by 32.17 percent. The new duty level took effect Feb. 24 and will be reviewed again in a year.
Canadian construction firms have said tariffs on U.S drywall make it more expensive to build homes out of the material, also known as gypsum board, and are slowing recovery efforts in the Alberta town of Fort McMurray, which was ravaged by a wildfire in 2016.
The government will also put about C$12 million ($9.16 million) in duties it has collected in recent months toward financial relief for Fort McMurray residents that are rebuilding their homes, as well as builders and contractors that have been hurt by the higher drywall costs.
$1 = 1.3098 Canadian dollars Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Alan Crosby