B.C. braces for new U.S. lumber trade action

Notice of American litigation follows expiry of last Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement in October

One of a series of articles on the future of the B.C. forest industry. You can find the series on Facebook or Twitter by searching for the hashtag #BCForestFuture or at the links below.

TOKYO – B.C.’s government and forest industry are disappointed but not surprised at the latest trade action launched Friday by the U.S. lumber industry.

The notice of litigation comes after the last Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement expired in October.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson received the news as he began his annual forest products trade mission to Japan Friday. The U.S. remains B.C.’s largest lumber customer, although Japan, China, India and other markets have improved in recent years.

“We are disappointed that the U.S. lumber industry has petitioned its government to launch trade litigation,” Thomson said. “We encourage the U.S. government to review previous cases and determine that the U.S. industry allegations against Canada are unfounded.”

Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council, is also on the Asia trade mission, aimed at reducing B.C.’s dependence on the U.S., which still buys half of B.C.’s export lumber.

She said the industry will “vigorously defend” against the latest trade action, agreed with Thomson that a new “managed trade” agreement with restrictions on Canadian lumber exports is the most likely compromise.

“Similar claims were made in the prior round of trade litigation and were ultimately rejected by independent NAFTA panels, which concluded that Canadian lumber is not subsidized and did not cause injury to the U.S. industry,” Yurkovich said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for conducting trade litigation, and is expected to decide by mid-December which industry allegations it will investigate.

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