Lumber industry waits for more information

Town's largest employer hopes for resolution on trade deal

  • Tue Nov 10th, 2015 11:00am
  • News

Princeton’s largest employer isn’t going out on a limb to predict how recent trade agreement news will impact its business.

“We don’t have a lot to say because it is very early,” said Wayne Roznowsky, manager of public affairs for Canadian Weyerhaeuser, one of the largest sustainable forest products companies in the world.

“We will not speculate on what might or might not happen. In general terms Weyerhaeuser supports long-term fair trade in softwood lumber across the Canada-US border. A negotiated softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States will provide trade certainly.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement doesn’t resolve Canada’s long-running dispute with the United States over softwood lumber, or remove restrictions on log exports from B.C.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Canadian government would like to renew the Canada-U.S. softwood agreement, expired as of Thanksgiving Day. It’s a side deal outside the North American Free Trade Agreement, and it won’t be covered by the Pacific Rim trade either.

“Obviously we would like to see this agreement move forward, and I think industry on both sides of the border would, but for reasons that were not entirely clear, the American administration hasn’t seen it that way,” Harper said in an interview with Black Press.

“In terms of forestry, what the TPP does do is provide new tariff-free access to many Asian countries, including enhanced access to the Japanese market.”

Restrictions on log exports from B.C. are also not eased by the TPP, which includes Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia. B.C.’s control over Crown land log prices has long been an irritant with the U.S. and Japan, while private and aboriginal land log producers are restricted by federal rules.

“B.C. was able to ensure that both provincial and federal log export controls will not change as a result of the TPP, despite pressure from Japan to eliminate them,” B.C. International Trade Minister Teresa Wat said in a statement. “B.C.’s objectives for the forestry sector during the TPP negotiations were to gain market access for forestry products to important TPP markets such as Japan, while maintaining existing log export controls.”

Premier Christy Clark said this week her first call to Ottawa after the Oct. 19 federal election will be about continuing the U.S. softwood lumber talks. Harper expressed confidence that despite the history of U.S. legal and trade actions over the years, the existing deal can be extended.

“We’ve managed to export a lot of lumber over the years and I’m confident we will continue to,” Harper said.

 

With files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press.