After nine years of cross-border certainty, the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expires today. B.C. Premier Christy Clark says that the U.S. has so far been unwilling to start talks. According to this press release from the U.S. Lumber Coalition, it’s Canada that has so far been unwilling to enter talks. Suffice it to say neither side is talking. A 12-month standstill on U.S. trade remedy actions will begin at midnight. For one year, softwood lumber produced in Canada can be shipped to the United States free of export charges and quota constraints, just like pumpkins.
For the past several weeks, lumber buyers have been wary that upon expiration of the SLA, a wall of wood, gift-wrapped in devalued Canadian mill wrap, would surge south. Will it happen? Has it already happened? Perhaps the futures market indicates David Fortin was onto something when he spoke at RISI’s annual North American Conference in Chicago two weeks ago. The senior economist for wood products at RISI predicted that once people realized there wouldn’t be a wall of wood, lumber prices could rise sharply.
I’m not sure anyone predicted that on the day the SLA expired, surging cross-border shipments of Canadian pumpkins would be dominating the headlines. We’re told record rainfall in the top pumpkin-producing state of Illinois has prompted salvage-harvesting of barren crops. The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015
is driving up jack-o’-lantern prices across the land. Even some lumber wholesalers have shifted attention, carving out pumpkin export opportunities. My three-year-old hit the pumpkin patch in Southlands this weekend, to help ensure all them pies have filling just in time for U.S. Thanksgiving. As Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving today, there is much to be thankful for.. unless you’re a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, eh!
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
~ G.K. Chesterton