OTTAWA – POLITICS – Alongside many other Canadians I was happy to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama meet in Washington last week, as Trudeau became the first Canadian prime minister in nearly 20 years to be the guest of honour at a White House state dinner.
Cooperation between the two countries is imperative as another trade war looms over the softwood lumber agreement, which could have monumental consequences in our riding.
The U.S. lumber industry has long argued that Canadian provinces unfairly subsidize lumber exports, mainly by charging lumber companies too little to log on Crown land. The vast majority of U.S. lumber production is harvested from private land.
The Softwood Lumber Agreement was hammered out back in 2006 to address this issue. The deal managed the flow of Canadian lumber to the United States by imposing export charges whenever prices fell below a predetermined floor. After being extended for another two years, the deal expired on October 12, 2015.
Right now, the United States is unable to apply duties on exports of Canadian softwood lumber. However, once the agreement has been expired for one year, such duties may be applied retroactively to the date of the agreement’s expiration. That’s why it’s imperative that the two governments work together to negotiate another deal.
Any kind of duties imposed by the U.S. could have a big impact on the forest industry in our riding which is attempting to get back on its feet.
While there was no deal reached at the meeting last week between Trudeau and Obama, the file has been handed over to the trade ministers who have 100 days to come up with ways to address the issue. I’m hopeful that we can work together towards an agreement that is fair to both parties and will only strengthen our relationship and the industry here in our riding.
Bob Nault MP