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U.S.-Canada Lumber Trade Issue > Latest Developments

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Canadian softwood lumber in U.S. crosshairs, B.C. envoy says
British Columbia’s envoy in the latest softwood lumber dispute will be back in Washington this week and says recent comments by U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade nominee show he’s “clearly got his crosshairs on Canada.” David Emerson, who was Canada’s international trade minister when the last negotiated softwood lumber agreement with the United States was signed in 2006, was last month appointed as B.C.’s envoy in the new round of talks. The federal government is leading the file, but B.C. accounts for half of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the United States and would bear the brunt of the imposition of duties. Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. President’s nominee for trade representative, told a Senate confirmation hearing last week softwood lumber was “at the top of the list” of issues he would address. Mr. Lighthizer said he would end the dispute through a new agreement or litigation. For more, click here...

NAHB CEO predicts long battle toward new SLA
Headaches over the supply and price of North American lumber likely will persist for several years, the CEO of the National Association of Home Builders told lumberyard executives last week, adding that one solution he's working on is to promote imports from Chile and perhaps Brazil. "I think it's going to take four to five years to have a resolution to the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA)," Jerry Howard told members of LBM Advantage, a buying co-op, at its annual meeting in Orlando. He was referring to the now-expired trade pact between Canada and the United States that is expected to result in tariffs of as much as 30% being imposed this spring. For more, click here...

Trade rep nominee: Lumber dispute 'at the top of the list'
President Donald Trump’s nominee for United States Trade Representative is vowing to end the long-running softwood-lumber dispute with Canada – whether by cutting a deal or fighting it out in trade court – and take Ottawa to task for not cracking down on counterfeit goods destined for the U.S. In a clear signal of the new administration’s bilateral priorities, Robert Lighthizer told his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that softwood is “at the top of the list.” For more, click here...

Ontario, Quebec more vulnerable to lumber duties
MONTREAL — Canada’s lumber industry is in a stronger position to weather a U.S. trade battle than it was during the last major clash a decade ago, but smaller Quebec and Ontario producers would be particularly vulnerable to duties that may arrive within weeks, industry observers say. B.C. producers such as West Fraser Timber, Canfor and Interfor have hedged their bets, purchasing sawmills in the U.S. primarily in the years when there was a truce over softwood. They’ve also seen softwood exports to China grow, giving them some degree of protection against tariffs that the U.S. could impose as early as May. “The big players in the West are now in a more comfortable position than they were 10 years ago,” says Andre Tremblay, head of the Quebec Forest Industry Council. “We are in a much more delicate situation now than during the last conflict.” For more, click here...

Canadian official says border tax would hurt both countries
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has warned U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that a border adjustment tax would hurt businesses in both countries. Ms. Freeland spoke by telephone Thursday with Mr. Ross, the man tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement. For more, click here...

Canadian envoy heads south to talk lumber
The Province will be sending a special envoy to the U.S. early this week with aims to bring B.C. softwood lumber to the table with decision makers south of the border. Former provincial and federal politician David Emerson is heading south to begin talks on a new softwood lumber agreement, the predecessor of which had run its course in October 2015. Emerson will be bringing the issue to Ottawa first on Monday, where he will speak to senior officials, including the minister of foreign affairs and Quebec's representative to the U.S. For more, click here...

Report: Trudeau, Trump talk lumber in phone call
Border co-operation and softwood lumber were discussed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump during a phone call between the two leaders on Thursday, according to an account provided by the Prime Minister's Office. Trudeau and Trump "discussed a range of bilateral relations issues, including border co-operation, moving forward on the softwood lumber file, and the upcoming G7 and G20 summits," the PMO said in a statement. For more, click here...

Emerson named envoy to U.S. on softwood lumber
Premier Christy Clark has named David Emerson as British Columbia's trade envoy to Washington, D.C. Emerson will represent the region's interests in the longstanding trade battle surrounding Canada's softwood lumber exports to the U.S. Emerson was CEO of Canfor Corp,, Canada's largest lumber producer, in the late 1990s.

Freeland talks tough on trade with Trump team
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has warned the Trump administration that Ottawa is ready to retaliate if the new president imposes tariffs at the border, potentially sparking a trade war between Canada and its largest trading partner. Ms. Freeland, who met with Donald Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in Washington Wednesday, said she delivered a message that Ottawa has no appetite for tariff walls and is not afraid to fight back. “I did make clear that we would be strongly opposed to any imposition of new tariffs between Canada and the United States, that we felt tariffs on exports would be mutually harmful to both Canada and the United States and that, if such an idea were ever to come into being, Canada would respond appropriately,” Ms. Freeland told reporters after her sit-down with Mr. Tillerson. For more, click here...

B.C. government, industry to launch lobbying campaign
The B.C. Lumber Trade Council and provincial government said Monday they will try to convince American consumers, politicians, and lumber buyers that an equitable softwood lumber deal is needed to avoid the damage that will result from import restrictions into the U.S. and higher prices. Susan Yurkovich, the president of the council, and B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson said no budget has been set for the lobbying effort, though they expect fees covering legal, consulting, and advertising costs will add up. For more, click here...

B.C. puts lumber trade issue on front burner
B.C. Forest Minister Steve Thomson flew to Ottawa on Sunday to start working toward a new trade agreement on softwood lumber with the U.S. as officials south of the border prepare for trade litigation that could result in punitive duties on one of B.C.'s major industries. Thomson said he will be working with Chrystia Freeland, federal minister of foreign affairs, and Francois-Phillipe Champagne, minister of international trade. “In our view, a managed trade agreement is as important to Americans as it is to us,” said Thomson. “If they want to build their economy, and that is a key objective of the new U.S. administration, they will need our softwood lumber.” For more, click here...

Resolute CEO confident he can convince U.S. on softwood lumber dispute
The head of Eastern Canada’s largest lumber producer said he is confident he can demonstrate to American authorities this month that the region deserves free and unencumbered access to the U.S. market. The forestry sectors of Ontario and Quebec are modelled after the market-based systems in the U.S., and that should convince the U.S. Commerce Department that the region doesn’t engage in the unfair trade of softwood lumber, Resolute Forest Products Inc. CEO Richard Garneau said. “So based on this, I think that we deserve the right to have access in Central Canada – in Quebec and Ontario – to the U.S. market,” he said in an interview after Resolute released its fourth-quarter and 2016 results. For more, click here...

Commerce extends decision on preliminary CVD
As expected, the U.S. Department of Commerce has announced that it is postponing a decision in the preliminary determination in the CVD case against Canadian lumber imports until April 24 due to the complexity of the case. Under the statute, Commerce is given 65 to 130 days to issue a preliminary determination. As has happened in previous CVD cases in the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber dispute, Commerce will take the full amount of time allotted to render a decision. If a CVD duty is affirmed on April 24, it would be published in the Federal Register about a week later, around the beginning of May. At that time cash deposits would be required. If it is ruled that "critical circumstances" apply in this case, duties could be applied retroactively up to 90 days, or around the beginning of February.

Canadian export options complicated in wake of duty investigations
With its chief trading partner awash in uncertainty, will Canada’s softwood lumber industry double down on China and other farther-flung markets? It’s complicated, says a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper. As U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist bent shifts from rhetoric to reality, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) is in the midst of investigating softwood trade with Canada, which very well may lead to a familiar-looking tariff and multiyear legal battle. But even though China has become a growing partner for Canadian softwood since the early 2000s, circumstances are aligning against a much deeper relationship. For more, click here...

Tembec open to lumber export quotas
Eastern Canadian lumber producer Tembec says it's open to quotas on exports to the United States, in a break from the positions of some Canadian rivals and the Quebec government. While chief executive James Lopez agrees that Canadian lumber should be exempt from restrictions because provincial systems are now market-based, he's advocating for a compromise to secure a new agreement. For more, click here...

Trump adviser: Canada not a NAFTA target
Canada has a "very special status" and is unlikely to be hit hard by changes the United States wants to make to the NAFTA trade accord, the head of a business advisory council to U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday. Stephen Schwarzman made his remarks after addressing Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, who are holding a two-day retreat in Calgary, Alberta to discuss U.S. ties, in particular Trump's demands to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada sends about 75 percent of its exports to its southern neighbor. For more, click here...

Trump, Trudeau plan to meet 'soon'
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump have pledged to meet, but a high-profile visit to Parliament any time soon seems unlikely, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper. Sources familiar with the Trudeau government’s plans say Canadian officials are worried that mass protests would disrupt Mr. Trump’s visit to Canada, and that view has been shared with the President’s team. Instead, it appears more probable that Mr. Trudeau would travel to Washington to meet with Mr. Trump. For more, click here...

Trump inauguration brings worry to B.C.
The inauguration of a highly protectionist president of the United States has sparked trepidation among B.C.’s forest-dependent communities and prompted B.C. Premier Christy Clark to tout her government’s efforts to find new markets outside the United States for its softwood lumber. Donald Trump did not wait for the keys to the Oval Office to signal a new U.S. trade agenda that threatens to tear up trade deals deemed unfavourable to homegrown industry and jobs. British Columbia, which supplies half of Canada’s softwood lumber exports to the United States, is now bracing for what could be its toughest round of trade conflict over softwood lumber. For more, click here...

Freeland tasked by Trudeau to negotiate with Trump administration
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made Chrystia Freeland the new foreign affairs minister, giving her total control of U.S. relations and the challenge of stickhandling the America-first trade policy of incoming president Donald Trump, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper. Mr. Trudeau shuffled his cabinet Tuesday in a move that saw him demote underperformers and promote a trio of rookie MPs while ushering out some of the Liberal old guard, including former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion. For more, click here...

Former ambassador weighs in on U.S.-Canada lumber trade
Gordon Ritchie, former ambassador for trade negotiations and deputy chief negotiator of the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement, said in a commentary in the Globe & Mail newspaper that President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to “rip up” the North American free-trade agreement (NAFTA) if he is unable to renegotiate it on his own, very aggressive terms. The Canadian and Mexican governments have made a virtue of necessity by expressing their openness to renegotiation. What are the benefits and risks? For more, click here...

ITC votes affirmative on injury ruling; case continues
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 5-0 today in a preliminary ruling that Canadian lumber imports have caused injury to the U.S. industry. This means the Department of Commerce will continue its investigation into a petition filed by the U.S. Lumber Coalition seeking countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber imports to the U.S. Commerce is expected to announce its ruling in the CVD investigation around early May. A ruling in the AD investigation will likely come about 60 days later. If it is ruled that "critical circumstances" apply in this case, duties could be applied retroactively up to 90 days prior to the preliminary determinations.

Trade minister sees opportunities for Canada
International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland sees a silver lining for Canada in 2017 despite an increasingly complex and gloomy economic situation worldwide. For more, click here...

Former diplomat: Canada faces uncertainty with new U.S. trade rep
Canada faces “stormy days” ahead on softwood lumber and other issues with the U.S. after incoming president Donald Trump picked someone with a protectionist bent to be the next U.S. trade representative, says a former Canadian diplomat. Trump plans to nominate Robert Lighthizer to fill the shoes of Michael Froman, who has served as the lead for the U.S. on the softwood lumber dispute. Lighthizer, 69, was a deputy trade representative under the administration of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan and has been lead counsel in numerous anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases over three decades. He joins billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary and economist Peter Navarro at a new White House National Trade Council. “Whether we’re sideswiped or intentionally targeted I think there’s going to be very tough days ahead on Canada-U.S. trade with Mr. Trump and his trade team,” said Lawrence Herman, an international trade lawyer who represented Canada abroad, including at the World Trade Organization. For more, click here...

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Saturday, March 25, 2017


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