Softwood deal start moved up

After announcing on Sept. 29 a delay in the start of a softwood lumber trade agreement between the two nations, the United States and Canada negotiated a new start date in mid-October.

On Sept. 29, representatives from the U.S. and Canada agreed to postpone to Nov. 1 implementation of the Softwood Lumber Agreement of 2006, which would begin repayment of $4 billion in collected duties to various Canadian parties, binational industry groups and a large coalition of U.S. lumber companies.

On Oct. 12, representatives of the two countries hammered out implementation details and the complex paperwork required to put the agreement into action.

Of the agreement’s new entry-into-force date, David L. Emerson, Canadian minister of international trade, said, “Very shortly, sawmills and producers in many of the more than 300 forestry-dependent communities across [Canada] will see the return of more than $5 billion dollars, breathing new life into the sector at this crucial time.”

The Coalition for Fair Lumber Important, the primary U.S. lumber industry lobby involved in working on the agreement, also approved of the measure.

“The coalition hopes that this agreement will provide the mechanism by which to find a permanent solution to this unfortunate dispute between our two nations,” said Steve Swanson, chairman of the CFLI. “We look forward to working with the U.S. government to ensure that the agreement provides the intended benefits to U.S. sawmills and mill workers.”

Lumber trade issues between the two countries have been a source of contention for decades.

The CFLI filed a complaint in 2001 with the U.S. government against what it deemed was market dumping and unfair trade practices by the Canadian lumber industry.

The SLA 2006, ratified on Sept. 12, also has provisions for dismissing legal actions stemming from dumping allegations and duties, the repeal of U.S. countervailing duties and leveraging new lumber quota limits and tariffs.

For a copy of the full text of the SLA 2006, visit dfait-maeci.gc.ca/eicb/softwood/pdfs/SLA-en.pdf.— CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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