Natural resources minister says U.S. 'unwilling' to negotiate on softwood lumber

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan says Canada is trying to reach a new deal with the United States over softwood lumber, but it's the Americans who are "not willing to reach an agreement."

O'Regan was pressed during a parliamentary committee appearance today about the status of negotiations, and what the Liberal government was doing to provide stability to the forestry industry.

It comes after the U.S. Commerce Department recommended an increase to preliminary tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports.

Sending these products south of the border has made for a long-standing dispute with Canada's closest trading ally, with the U.S lumber industry saying there needs to be an equal playing field and that Canadian products are "heavily subsidized."

A 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Canada on softwood lumber expired in 2015.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

O'Regan says Canada is still pressing for a negotiated settlement, but it's the United States that's not shown interest.

“We are seeking an agreement. The U.S.A. is not willing to reach an agreement. We are.”

O'Regan also added: "U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber — they are unwarranted, they are unjustified, they are unfair, they hurt our workers, they hurt our forestry sector — and frankly, they hurt their sector as well."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2021.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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