Trade Disputes

Judging from weekend reports in the Financial Post, the U.S. – Canadian softwood lumber trade disputes are heating up again. With the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement set to expire October 12, 2015, we’re told there are signs this historic trade grievance is set to return with a vengeance.

“Some things have changed. In one of the most interesting developments, a Canadian company, Interfor, this year bought Preston, Ga.-based Tolleson Lumber Co., whose chief executive and president, Rusty Wood, served as chairman of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, the U.S. industry group that is a persistent critic of the Canadian industry.

Indeed, three Canadian companies now own at least 12% of U.S. lumber production in the southeast U.S. Yet these moves are unlikely to alter the dynamics of a trade dispute that dates back decades. If history is any guide, it’s unlikely the U.S. business will let sleeping logs lie. As the expiry of the agreement ticks closer, it becomes more likely softwood lumber will return as one of the biggest cross-border trade irritants.

‘I’ve worked on Softwood Lumber intermittently since the 1990s. The size and longevity of the dispute is amazing,’ said Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the department of forest resources management at the University of British Columbia. “Things flare up with tomatoes, pork, or meat labeling. But this one, with the persistence and longevity, is unique.’”

– Financial Post 31 Oct. 2014

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