No Softwood Deal Yet
Prince George, B.C. – The end of the full year of the stand still in lumber trade between Canada and the U.S. ends tomorrow, and with no sign of a new softwood lumber agreement anytime soon, experts are predicting the U.S. will launch action against Canada.
The talks aimed at reaching a new deal have been ongoing with the most recent happening last week in Toronto . That round involved a U.S. Trade representative, the Canadian lumber industry and Canada’s International Trade Minister.
President of the BC Lumber Trade Council, and head of the Council of Forest Industries, Susan Yurkovich says the discussions are “challenging” and has expressed appreciation for the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Christy Clark and Forest Minister Steve Thomson “They have made achieving an agreement on softwood lumber a top priority and we know they will continue these efforts until a new agreement is reached.”
Having said that though, Yurkovich says the BC Lumber Trade Council is “preparing to work alongside the Canadian government to defend the industry against any potential trade actions brought by the United States, as we have done successfully in the past.”
The Softwood Lumber agreement expired on October 12th of last year. Since that time, the two countries have been trying to work out a new agreement, and in the meantime, lumber shipments have been allowed to carry on during a one year ‘stand still’ period where neither side could launch action.
Nearly half of all the lumber exported to the U.S. comes from the B.C. Interior. With the Canadian dollar being low, and the U.S. housing market picking up, the demand for Canadian lumber has grown. The United States has long argued lumber produced north of the 49th parallel is subsidized by government, but industry experts on this side of the border argue it has more to do with American producers wanting a better share of the market.