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BC’s Special Envoy to the US continues to seek trade deal on softwood lumber

BC continues its efforts to lock down a softwood lumber trade deal with the United States.

David Emerson, the province’s Special Envoy to United States is currently in Washington, DC and issued the following statement today:

“Over the past three days, we have met with elected representatives, officials and stakeholders in Ottawa and Washington, D.C.

“In Ottawa, we met with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Québec’s Representative to the U.S., Raymond Chretien. In Washington, we met with former and current officials with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the National Association of Homebuilders and some key senators.

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“We have met with them to make sure they understand that B.C. is going to fight on behalf of our lumber producers. We would much rather find opportunities to work together with our American neighbours to find a lasting solution to this long-lived dispute.

“A stable, predictable lumber supply is good for workers and the economy on both sides of the border. We know that the forest sector supports jobs in over 140 communities in B.C.”

Emerson says the atmosphere of the meetings this past week seemed to favour bigger businesses.

“I think there’s a much greater vulnerability in some of the smaller independents; we recognize small independents are not as capable of handling a big cash haemorrhage as the bigger guys.”

“We also know that B.C. lumber is a critical part of America’s thriving home-building sector and a thriving home-building sector is a part of America’s long-term economic growth. Litigation will only disrupt the market and create artificial constraints on timber supply that will benefit a select few timber barons and sawmill owners at the expense of American workers and consumers.”

While he now refers to future discussions as ‘turbluent,’ Emerson strongly believes Prim e Minister Justin Trudeau has got Canada’s right foot in the door with President Donald Trump.

“You need the atmospherics of a supportive Presidential office if you want to make progress on softwood lumber and I think we’re in relatively good shape there.”

“I believe these meetings have been a good start, but there is much more work to do to ultimately secure a softwood lumber deal – which remains our goal. We have differences to overcome but we can – and we must – find a negotiated solution to this dispute for the benefit of both of our countries.”

Little progress appears to have been made in more than three months since the holding period following the expiration of the previous trade agreement between Canada and the US expired. On November 25, 2016, the U.S. lumber industry filed a petition to try and limit Canadian lumber shipments.

Premier Christy Clark has said the government will fight to get the best deal for BC, where thousands of jobs are directly tied to softwood lumber.

– with files from Kyle Balzer

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