BC’s Envoy to the United States David Emerson has provided an update on softwood lumber talks with our southern neighbours.
He says American Senators have made things difficult to deal with, which could mean a longer timeline on reaching an agreement.
“If there’s going to be a successful negotiation, the first thing that has to happen is that the President’s office needs to be enthusiastic about negotiating. The loss on Obamacare is going to create a different kind of dynamic.”
He says their “hawk-ish” behaviour has made it hard to determine what’s important to both parties, especially during the on-going investigation into Canada’s lumber exports.
As congress continues to deny progression with Canadian representatives in Washington DC, Emerson believes he’s turned over as many rocks as he can for now, but nothing seems to be new.
He adds this could be a big problem.
“We would be much better off to have a negotiation earlier rather than later. Having softwood Lumber wrapped up in a bigger NAFTA negotiation would cause it to be dragged out for multiple years.”
He says if nothing moves forward in the next few meetings at the White House, smaller exports could suffer.
“The impact, at ground level, will be bent to some degree on the region and the companies involved. There’s a scarcity of lumber and prices have been very strong, but one has to assume that they will be negative impact.”
According to Emerson, American Senators have been focused on other issues like repealing Obamacare.
He predicts an earlier agreement could be made in late summer, when the Trump administration isn’t as busy.