Officials in Canada and the United States appear to have resumed the acrimonious softwood trade dispute just where they left off in 2006 — with both sides blaming each other for failing to kick start negotiations.
“If Canada continues to stay away from the negotiating table, the United States industry will eventually have no choice but to use our rights under U.S. trade laws to offset the unfair advantages provided to Canadian industry,” said Charlie Thomas, a Mississippi lumber producer, in a coalition statement.
Nobody from the coalition was immediately available for comment. The agreement expired Monday.
The B.C. official said Canada indicated it was interested in extending or renewing the existing softwood lumber agreement but has yet to receive a response.
Susan Yurkovich of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council said a renewed or renegotiated softwood-lumber agreement benefits both countries’ lumber industries.
American industry groups have long claimed Canada subsidizes its lumber production.
The 2006 agreement was reached to regulate Canadian softwood exports to the U.S.
The lumber coalition said in its statement that the 2006 softwood agreement is outdated and the alliance of large and small American lumber producers intends to work with its federal government to reach a new deal.
B.C. is Canada’s largest producer of softwood lumber, accounting for 55 per cent of the nation’s lumber exports to the U.S.
The value of B.C. lumber exports annually to the U.S. is about $ 3 billion.
In 2006, B.C. lumber exports to the U.S. were valued at $ 4.3 billion, with lumber exports to China at $ 82 million. In 2014, B.C. lumber exports to the United States were $ 3 billion and $ 1.43 billion to China.
Yurkovich said the expired deal means dropped export duties on Canadian lumber, but she warns the Americans could be watching for price shifts and use any market changes to influence future negotiations.