BC Takes Softwood Lumber Talks to Ottawa
Prince George, B.C.- Minister of Forests Steve Thomson and BC Lumber Trade Council President Susan Yurkovich are in to Ottawa to talk Softwood Lumber Agreement .“We’ve been meeting with Ministers and key officials on the softwood lumber file” says Minister Thomson. He says the purpose of the visit is to “enforce the importance of this file to British Columbia.”
He says they have been working to move the file forward as well as working on the litigation that has been launched against 4 forest companies ( West Fraser, Canfor, Tolko and Resolute) which are the focus of the U.S. legal action launched against Canada.
“It is critically important for British Columbia, critically important for Canada” says Minister Thomson. He says he and Yurkovich have been meeting with key Federal Ministers who are involved in this file
Thomson says B.C. continues to work on developing diversified markets but the legal action launched by the U.S. and the softwood file remain a top priorities “We are really pleased with the level of discussions we have had and the level of engagement we have had on this file.”
Yurkovich says “Obviously it is hugely important for our sector to continue to have access to the (U.S. ) market.” She says there is an excellent working relationship with both the federal and provincial government “We continue to keep the pressure on.”
Yurkovich says the next step in the litigation will see the four companies filling out questionnaires and a U.S. preliminary determination on duties is expected in April. There is no indication at this time on what the new tariffs might be.
What has yet to be determined is if softwood lumber might be part of any review of NAFTA, Yurkovich says there has been no formal announcement of that trade agreement being reviewed.
Having a softwood agreement is “critical for the U.S. economy” says Thomson who says the United States will need softwood lumber to meet the demand for the U.S. housing market.
Yukovich says the U.S. consumption of lumber was 47 billion board feet last year, but it only produces 32 billion board feet . She notes that while if the U.S. wants to build capacity , that kind of “dramatic uptick in production”, can’t happen over night. “Canada is a very important customer, we’ve done this before, sadly, this isn’t our first rodeo with softwood lumber” says Yurkovich who says if there is no supply of lumber, there will be a spike in pricing which would push home ownership out of the reach of some. She says they will be working hard to get the message to the American producers and consumers “It’s a multi pronged approach to remind people why it’s important to get a resolution, it’s in our mutual best interests to resolve this dispute.”