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Daily News / Market Analysis / Lumber / Global / North America
November 25, 2016

US expected to fire up softwood lumber dispute with investigation request

US expected to fire up softwood lumber dispute with investigation request

The US Lumber Coalition is expected to submit various petitions in a request for an investigation in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute.

The petitions will be submitted to the Department of Commerce on the 25th of November, as said by a spokesman for International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

According to CBC News, softwood lumber is excluded from the continental trade agreement and lumber producers in both countries continually bicker over whether Canadian companies' cheap access to public forests constitutes an illegal subsidy.

Alex Lawrence, press secretary for Freeland, said that Canada is prepared to face any situation, while the government will defend the interests of Canadian workers and producers. He added that the protectionist climate in the U.S. complicates any trade negotiation.

Last weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the dispute with U.S. President Barack Obama and Freeland met with U.S. trade representative Michael Froman, during the APEC summit in Peru.

The U.S. industry must sign on to any softwood lumber agreement, as it must agree to suspend its legal rights to petition for trade remedy relief for the duration of the agreement. Canada's share of the U.S. market has oscillated between 26 per cent and 35 per cent since 2000 and was estimated at 31 per cent earlier this year, CBC News reported.

"Our softwood lumber producers and workers have never been found in the wrong," Lawrence added. "International bodies have always sided with our industry in the past."

With the expiry of the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement, the standstill period allowed for an attempted resolution, as it imposed 0-15% export taxes on Canadian lumber. Now, the US Lumber Coalition proposes for across-the-board quotas, which are totally rejected by Western Canadian producers.

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