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May 6, 2016

Hopes in Canada for a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with US

There are hopes for a new Softwood Lumber Agreement in Canada. BC's Premier, Christy Clark, tried to gather support for it while participating at the Western Premiers’ Conference in Vancouver. She stated that blocking the trade wasn’t an option for closing a new deal.
“People are talking about building walls. Great American presidents never make their country or the world great because they were talking about building walls — they talked about taking down walls. That’s what trade is all about. It’s taking down walls around the world and making sure we can all enrich the citizens we represent by making sure trade is free between us,” Clark said.
Canadian lumber producers support a new SLA
Moreover, Canadian lumber producers appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade in Ottawa to voice their support for the Canadian Government's continued efforts to reach a new softwood lumber agreement that is fair and acceptable to the industry in both Canada and the U.S.
The Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance (CLTA) was formed in 2001 to work with the federal and provincial governments to help defend Canadian softwood producers on trade matters with the U.S.  Today, the CLTA represents 70 percent of the softwood lumber capacity in Canada that is exported to the U.S. market. The CLTA membership includes independent lumber producers in B.C., Alberta,Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

"A new softwood lumber agreement, if properly designed, will provide greater certainty and stability for Canadian lumber producers, and ensure customers in the U.S. have access to high quality Canadian products," said Duncan Davies, Co-Chair of the Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance, and President and CEO of Interfor, based in Vancouver.  "An agreement would support efforts by lumber producers on both sides of the border to grow markets domestically and offshore."

"Smaller, independent lumber producers in Canada – from coast to coast – would benefit from the certainty provided by a fair trade agreement between Canada and the U.S. on softwood," added Kevin Edgson, President and CEO of EACOM, based in Montreal. "However, if a reasonable agreement cannot be reached, the industry is prepared to work alongside the Canadian government to defend itself against any potential punitive trade actions brought by the United States, as we have done successfully in the past."
The 2006 Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on October 12, 2015. The agreement includes a standstill provision that precludes the U.S. from bringing trade action against
Canadian softwood lumber producers for 12 months after the expiration of the agreement. On March 10, 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Obama agreed that negotiators will intensively explore all options and report back in mid-June.

"With 55 days already passed since the Canadian and U.S. leaders met, it will take industry and political leadership on both sides of the border to move forward to resolve the issues and reach agreement," added Davies.

The Canadian forest products industry is important to the Canadian economy and the economies of many forest dependent communities across the country. The sector generates approximately 370,000 direct and indirect jobs, and contributes over $20 billion to the national GDP.


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