B.C.’s Premier remains confident talks on Canada’s Softwood Lumber Agreement with the U.S. will continue, despite reports this week that the new administration has the deal in its crosshairs.
“I think we have a very strong argument to make with this president, which we might not have been able to make with his opponent had she been elected, that this is of a vital economic importance for the United States,” said Christy Clark.
The premier says if Donald Trump wants to fulfill his promise of creating jobs, he’ll need B.C. lumber products to do it.
“He wants to create jobs. He wants to get them going fast. Let’s get that residential construction industry really working. That’s a way to put thousands of Americans to work and a big early win for him in fulfilling his jobs agenda,” said Clark.
Last week trade experts said they expected the deal to fly below the radar.
Information this week seems to indicate Trump’s transition team is considering rolling it into new NAFTA talks.
The Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute is now in its fourth decade, and centres around complaints from the American industry that producers north of the border are unfairly subsidized by the “stumpage fees” provincial governments charge to log on crown land.
Trade peace was achieved in 2006 with the landmark Softwood Lumber Agreement, but it expired in October of last year. A clause in that deal blocked any punitive tariffs for a year after expiry – but that’s now expired too.
Negotiations between the countries have been ongoing – but stalled in recent months in anticipation of the U.S. election and possible policy changes.