Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operation Steve Thomson gave an update on their softwood lumber talks with Ottawa on Monday.

Thomson says a new trade agreement between Canada and the United States is vital to the province.

“50% of Canadian softwood lumber production is in British Columbia and the US still is one of our most important markets, that’s not to discount the work we have done on market diversification.”

Thomson adds the issue is on the top of many minds in the political world. “It is the highest priority for British Columbia. Premier Christy Clark has made it her highest priority, Ottawa feels the same way and we’re really pleased with the level of discussions we have had and the engagement.”

BC Lumber Trade Council President Susan Yurkovich was also in attendance.

The United States is currently BC’s largest softwood lumber market, receiving more than half Canada’s softwood exports.

In 2015, the forestry industry supported an estimated 65,000 direct jobs in the province.