In a statement in the Legislature today, Premier Christy Clark underscored the importance of stability in Canada-United States softwood lumber trade to British Columbia.
The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement between Canada and the U.S. expires on Oct. 12, 2015.
The current agreement ended five years of litigation and returned $4 billion of $5 billion in duties collected by the U.S. to Canadian producers, with over half ($2.4 billion) returned to B.C. companies. In addition, the agreement created the Bi-National Softwood Lumber Council that has grown the market for wood products in the U.S.
Over the past two years B.C. has been working with the federal government seeking an extension or renewal of the softwood lumber agreement. So far the U.S. has not been willing to discuss renewing or extending the agreement.
“B.C.’s forest industry is too important to take for granted. For lumber producers, and the communities throughout the province that depend on them, we need to avoid an unnecessary trade dispute with our most significant market,” said Premier Clark. “When the new federal government is formed later this month, this is the first issue I’ll be raising with the new Prime Minister.”
“Under the Softwood Lumber Agreement, the U.S. cannot launch any trade litigation for one-year after the expiry of the agreement,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. “We continue to work closely with the B.C. forest industry, other provinces and the federal government to ensure B.C.’s priorities are clearly communicated.”
British Columbia has made great strides in opening up new markets for softwood lumber in Asia, but the U.S. is still British Columbia’s largest market. In late November Thomson will be leading a forestry trade mission to Japan and China to maintain and expand B.C.’s second and third largest markets for softwood lumber products.