SLAin’t Happening?

We’re told today that a settlement remains elusive but Canada and the U.S. have edged closer to a job-saving settlement on the softwood lumber dispute. According to a joint statement from President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, although “significant differences remain”, officials will “maintain an intensive pace of engagement”.

Call me skeptical, but did we mention seasons of elections are not a time to negotiate trade agreements? With 109 days until the end of the duty-free-for-all standstill period, it’s perhaps timely to revisit the projections outlined May 16th in an industry update from CIBC Institutional Equity Research:

“At some point (maybe late June/July), negotiations will simply cease due to the upcoming U.S. elections. Such a freeze is unlikely to be lifted until a new U.S. president takes office and even then, potentially only after a new U.S. trade representative is confirmed by Congress (maybe March/April 2017). With the window for reaching a deal closing, we expect the U.S. industry will petition for a trade case in five months when the standstill on litigation ends on October 12, 2016, after which Canadian producers could then get hit with 25%-30% preliminary duties as early as February/March 2017. Based on our latest discussions with industry sources, we believe it is highly unlikely that AD/CV duties would be retroactive to October 2016. While a 90-day retroactive period (from the preliminary determination) is possible if the Department of Commerce were to find “critical circumstances” (such as a surge in imports), we understand this measure has never been applied previously to Canadian lumber, and has largely only been used on China.”

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