With files from Liza Yuzda and Jeremy Lye
The head of the BC Council of Forest Industries says she hopes a need for B.C. lumber products south of the border will lead the new administration to keeping softwood lumber deals in place.
The Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute has been ongoing since the 1980s, and is based around complaints from American industry that Canadian producers are unfairly subsidized by the “stumpage fees” charged by provincial governments.
A deal was initially struck in 2006 with the Softwood Lumber Agreement, but it expired in October 2015. Since then, the two countries have been involved in ongoing negotiations.
But what will a Donald Trump presidency mean for this issue moving forward?
Susan Yurkovich says the U.S. simply can’t supply what they need on their own.
“Mr. Trump has talked about growing the U.S. economy. Growing the economy is going to include housing and construction starts, which are already on the rise in the United States.”
But Yurkovich says if negotiations stall, they will end up back in litigation – a place they’ve been before – and won.
“The fact of the matter is that the U.S. industry alone isn’t able to meet its domestic demand for lumber products, so anybody who is concerned about growing the economy is going to want to think about this. You don’t want to disadvantage your consumers in the U.S.”
Clark says softwood lumber agreement with US helped with stability now that election over. Says doesn’t think Trump has an issue with it — Jeremy Lye (@JJLye980) November 9, 2016
“More than a little dispiriting,” Premier Christy Clark describes the sexism in recent US election pic.twitter.com/Qs99XjlRzK
— Jeremy Lye (@JJLye980) November 9, 2016
Premier Christy Clark not concerned
While Trump campaigned as a trade protectionist, promising to scrap NAFTA, Premier Christy Clark says the president elect did not mention the softwood lumber deal.
“The reality is that softwood lumber agreement is vitally important for British Columbia, it’s very important for Canada, and it’s not really central to most of the American economic interests.”
In response to the sexist comments made by Trump during the campaign, she called them dispiriting, but says she wouldn’t be risking B.C. jobs by insulting him now.
Clark says she’ll work with anyone the Americans choose.
“And that’s my job, because it won’t do workers in logging communities, forest based communities any good to have the premier of their province fighting with and insulting the president of our partners’ country.”
Clark described the election as an “ugly, terrible affair,” which did nothing to raise the public discourse on civic issues, also adding she’s personally glad it’s over.
Keith Head with the UBC Sauder School of Business also says he believes the issue is low on Trump’s list of priorities.
Lumber trade agreements with the U.S. have been a challenge over the years with both Republicans and Democrat governments, according to Yurkovich.