Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson has issued a statement in response to today’s ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States.

The U.S. International Trade Commission announced a finding of ‘injury’ against Amercian lumber producers. Because of the finding, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigation into Canada and Canadian softwood lumber producers for unfair trade practices. Today’s ruling has increased anxiety in the over 140 communities in B.C. that depend on the lumber industry. In 2015, B.C.’s forest sector supported over 65,000 direct jobs.

“These are allegations that, time after time, have been proven to be false before NAFTA and World Trade Organization tribunals. B.C.’s forest policies are trade compliant. This issue can be resolved only with a fair, negotiated trade agreement with the United States, not more litigation. Despite numerous discussions during 2016 between Canada and the U.S., attempts to reach an agreement were unsuccessful,” said Thompson.

Thompson points out that with American housing starts forecast to increase as that country’s economy grows, those penalties stand to largely affect middle-class Americans by raising building costs. “It is in the best interest of both sides to quickly come to terms on a deal and get back to focusing on growing our respective economies rather than wasting time, energy and resources in costly litigation,” added Thompson. The United States is B.C.’s largest market for softwood lumber products.  Over 50 percent of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the U.S. originate in B.C.

Despite voicing approval of trying to resolve the potential dispute with an agreement, Thompson also said that the provincial government will stand by the province’s forest industry in the event of a trade war. “British Columbia is prepared to fight, alongside Canada, on behalf of British Columbians and the 140 communities that rely on the forest sector. We are confident we will win yet again.”