The grandaddy of all trade disputes is rearing its ugly head.
Rhetoric is flying on both sides of the border over softwood lumber.
Last week, both Canada’s Premiers and Ambassador to the United States penned open letters chastising American Senators over long running allegations that Canadian lumber is unfairly subsidized.
The crux of the American argument is that most timber harvesting takes place on private land in the United States, and on crown land in Canada.
Canada’s Premiers and Ambassador both point to past trade court rulings that dismissed the allegations, with the Council of the Federation calling on the Prime Minister to publicly denounce the claims.
“Unfair and inaccurate allegations of Canadian lumber subsidizes by American interest must not go unchallenged by the federal government” writes Council Chair and Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski
In his letter Ambassador David MacNaughton stated “a successful negotiation is not guaranteed. It’s clear to me that inflated rhetoric can only complicate efforts to reach a solution.”
With an October expiration of the standstill period looming, the industry is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
“We are certainly hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but we are also preparing for Plan B.” said President of the BC Council of Forest Industries Susan Yurkovich “The industry is experienced at this and is resilient so I expect should we face a litigation challenge we will work collaboratively with the government to defend our interests.”
She says any benefits of timber operations on crown land are offset by stumpage fees and rehabilitation/ reforestation costs, something several trade courts have agreed on.
“We’ve had periods of managed trade, and we’ve had periods of litigation. When we have had litigation we’be worked collectively to with the governments of BC and Canada to defend our interests and we’ve been successful in doing that.”