Clark cheers Canada US moves for softwood lumber pact

Trudeau and Obama expect to resolve the issue, targeting 100 days.

March 11, 2016   by CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says she’s pleased that Canada and the United States are working to resolve a long-standing trade issue over softwood lumber exports.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama said they expect to resolve the issue.

The trade pact expired last year and both countries have accused each other of not being willing to start new negotiations.

Clark said a renegotiated softwood trade agreement has been one of BC’s top priorities with the federal Liberals, who were elected last fall.

“We have a statement from Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama to try and get the softwood lumber agreement settled in 100 days, which is fantastic news,” she said.

“There is a lot of work between now and then, but I’m a big believer that you can’t get to the end of something unless you start. So, this is a good start.”

The 2006 agreement that regulated Canadian softwood exports to the US ended five years of court battles and returned $4 billion in duties collected by the US on Canadian producers.

American industry groups have long claimed Canada subsidizes its lumber production.

BC is Canada’s largest producer of softwood lumber, with annual lumber exports to the US at about $3 billion.

BC lumber exports to Asia, particularly China, have increased in recent years, but the US remains the province’s top lumber export market.

The expired agreement includes a standstill clause that prevents the US from launching any trade action against Canadian producers for one year.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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