Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson released the following statement today on the status of negotiations between Canada and the U.S. on softwood lumber and in response to the U.S. lumber industry filing its petition requesting the U.S. Government launch litigation against the Canadian and provincial governments and forest companies. He issued the statement while on the 2016 Forestry Asia Trade Mission to expand markets for B.C. wood products in China and Japan.:
“I appreciate the leadership that Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland has shown on this important issue. We will continue to work hard to make fair and predictable access to the U.S. market for British Columbia’s softwood lumber producers a key priority for Canada and the U.S.
“Forestry is a vital economic driver supporting over 140 rural communities. While our preference remains free trade, a managed-trade agreement is preferable to litigation, which is not only costly for lumber producers and the federal and provincial governments, but also creates increased market uncertainty, harming producers on both sides of the border, and increases the costs of lumber to U.S. consumers.
“We are disappointed that the U.S. lumber industry has petitioned its government to launch trade litigation. We encourage the U.S. government to review previous cases and determine that the U.S. industry allegations against Canada and B.C. are unfounded. If the U.S. government pursues this case despite Canada’s wins of previous cases on appeal, we are confident that, as we have in the past, we will successfully defend B.C.’s market-based forest policies.”
- The United States is B.C.’s largest market for softwood lumber products and within Canada, over 50% of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the U.S. originate from B.C.
- Forestry is a key economic driver in over 140 B.C. communities.
- In 2015, B.C.’s forest sector supported over 65,000 direct jobs.
- The document filed with the U.S. government is a petition drawn up by U.S. lumber companies. It is an allegation only and does not represent the U.S. government’s findings.
- The U.S. Department of Commerce is responsible for conducting the litigation, and will make its decision regarding what allegations to investigate in 20 days.