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HomeNews100 Mile House“We need the Americans at the table,”: Council of Forest Industries President

“We need the Americans at the table,”: Council of Forest Industries President

(from the files of Brendan Pawliw

The lumber squabble between Canada and the United States is likely to continue for some time, despite a new ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It ruled the US Government unfairly imposed tariffs on lumber exports in 2017.

The Americans have claimed, for decades, that the low provincial logging fees give an unfair advantage to Canadian companies, a claim shot down by the WTO.

BC Council of Forest Industries President and CEO Susan Yurkovich told Vista Radio she was quite pleased with the outcome.

“What it demonstrates is that when a neutral, unbiased body looks at the evidence they find that as Canada has consistently stated that we are not an industry that is subsidized, it’s good news from that perspective but we still have a long way to go in this fight.”

Both countries have been without a deal since 2015, leading to 20% tariffs being imposed on BC lumber mills.

When asked if a new president will help aid a new softwood lumber deal, Yurkovich said that doesn’t seem likely in the short term.

“I think right now with the prospect of the US election and of course in the middle of this pandemic, personally, I don’t see the possibility of achieving a negotiated settlement but perhaps with a new administration we will have that opportunity again.”

“The softwood lumber dispute has taken place under both Democratic and Republican administrations so it’s not a case of one versus the other there has been a protectionist sentiment with this product for a long time.”

“We’ve been ready since the expiration of the last softwood lumber deal to engage in conversations. It’s not a case of us not being willing to negotiate we have to have the US industry come to the table and they have a much different construct they use their trade laws to punish their competitors,” added Yurkovich.

She added the protectionist attitude being shown by the Americans is doing more harm than good.

“Most importantly, the US is not able to meet its own domestic demand for lumber with the capacity it has within its borders right now. They need our lumber and it’s very clear that there is strong demand for our lumber.”

Yurkovich mentioned BC has done a good job of expanding its list of trade partners across the ocean like China and Japan but at the end of the day, getting the United States back onside is most crucial.

“In Japan, we have had a very strong market for our product for over 40 years and COFI has had an office in Japan and so, we continue to look for markets overseas but the US is and will remain the largest customer for our products.”

Yurkovich outlined that an administrative review process is done yearly on the duties in place.

COFI is awaiting for the final rate of the first review to be delivered by November.

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