Despite many talks regarding the renewal of the softwood lumber agreement between the US and Canada, the two sides aren’t close enough on numerous key issues.
Martin Moen, the Canadian chief negotiator in the softwood lumber talks with the US, stated that is very unlikely that a new deal would be reached before the October 15 deadline. During the special meeting of the all-party, international trade committee, he said that the discussions were very intense in the past several months.
According to Scrap Monster, officials from both countries have held a dozen face-to-face meetings so far and the next meeting is scheduled to be held on August 25th. There are still considerable gaps that are needed to be bridged for a new settlement to be reached between the two countries. The negotiations are currently centered on the structure in which certain export quotas and charges are to be used.
If the mid-October term is to be reached without any new agreement, the US is entitled to impose tariffs on softwood lumber imported from Canada.
At the moment, some of the Canadian provinces have demanded for an outline that would allow them to get out of the deal even after it is implemented. Issues such as the regional exclusions for certain provinces and territories and the treatment of high-value products and joint-market development are also underway.
Because there are many differences within the wood industry in Canada, the Conservatives asked the International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and the government officials to develop a national consensus on the new deal. Yet, the International Trade Committee rejected the proposal because the talks would disrupt the ongoing process of the trade deal.
As reported by Scrap Monster, US Senator Rod Wyden had recently urged the US administration to implement tougher trade policies against Canadian lumber imports. He had alleged that Canada has long been engaged in a system that allows massive subsidies aimed at protecting their domestic industry.
Senator Wyden added that imports of lumber from Canada at low market prices will hurt the competitors in the US.