Negotiators prepare for U.S. lumber talks

Two years trying engage U.S. government on softwood lumber trade have been frustrating, now bracing for Donald Trump administration

B.C. Forest Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich

B.C. and Canada have a strong position going into the latest dispute over lumber trade with the U.S., which needs imported lumber to maintain growing housing construction, industry and government representatives say.

The U.S. used 47 billion board feet of lumber in 2016 and domestic production was only 32 billion, B.C. Lumber Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich said after meetings with federal trade officials in Ottawa Monday.

Yurkovich said the U.S. wants to increase domestic lumber production, but it can’t do that quickly.

“If you don’t have that supply, what you’re going to have is a massive spike in lumber prices, which is going to push home ownership out of reach for some,” Yurkovich said. “And frankly if it’s so constrained that you push prices high enough, what you’ll bring in is European supply, or you push people to substitute, which isn’t in the best interests of the wood products industry.”

Yurkovich and B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson met with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is bracing for the reopening of the North America Free Trade Agreement as well as the now-expired side deal that restricted Canadian lumber exports to the U.S.

Thomson said it has been a frustrating two years, trying to get talks going as the system of trade quotas and border taxes was expiring, and so far there is no “common ground” on the issues.

“We have clearly said that we’re not in favour of strict hard-cap quotas,” Thomson said. “We need to look at how we have a market share in the U.S. that is reflective of a historical market.”

The U.S. International Trade Commission has made a preliminary finding of “injury’ due to alleged subsidies to Canadian wood products and the U.S. Department of Commerce is continuing its investigation.

The four largest exporting Canadian companies are responding to U.S. officials, Quebec-based Resolute and three B.C. firms, Canfor, West Fraser and Tolko. Half of Canada’s exports to the U.S. come from B.C.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Commerce, is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate soon. Canadian negotiators await his priorities for trade, which has been a focus for Trump’s foreign policy.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two Buddha statues stolen from Vernon yards

One owner said her statue had been left undisturbed for more than 10 years

Water levels starting to recede in Shuswap River

Though a positive trend, City of Enderby high-water restrictions are still in effect

Vernon woman seeks replica of treasured children’s toy

Monique Lee hopes someone has a replica of the Winnie the Pooh toy they’d be willing to part with

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Vernon protesters take BLM movement to Polson Park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Most Read