Clark hoping Canada-U-S Softwood Lumber Agreement continues

On Monday, Thanksgiving Day, the day when many a turkey has been laid to rest, critics might argue one of the biggest trade agreement turkeys this country has ever signed could meet the same fate.

October 12th is the expiration day of the Canada-U-S Softwood Lumber Agreement, but our Premier is not among those aforementioned critics ready to sacrifice it, and Christy Clark says when the new federal government is formed later this month, this is the first issue she will raise with the Prime Minister.

The agreement ended five years of litigation and returned four of the five billion dollars in duties collected by the U-S, from Canadian producers, with over half of it, $2.4 billion going back to B.C. companies.

Meantime, since the agreement also created the Bi-National Softwood Lumber Council, which has grown the market for wood products in the U-S, little wonder while over the past two years, B.C. has been working hard with the federal government seeking an extension or renewal of the agreement.

However, while a number of key industry players and companies backed the deal there was no shortage of analysts and opposition politicians on this side of the border, who said the agreement gave away too much to the Americans.

Aside from surrendering the aforementioned billion dollars Washington collected in the four years prior to signing it, the 2006 deal, limited Canadian exports to 34 per cent of the $10 billion U-S market.

However, it also included an export tax linked to both the value of the Canadian dollar, and to the U-S market price for construction lumber and that was seen as a major victory for Prime Minister Harper.

In addition, then U-S President Bush praised the deal saying it showed how NAFTA partners could overcome differences and work together, but that noted there’s currently no indication the U-S is now willing to discuss renewing or extending it.

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