U.S., CANADIAN LEADERS TO FORM GROUP TO SOLVE SOFTWOOD LUMBER DISPUTE
U.S. and Canadian officials agreed Thursday to form a “working group” to find a solution to the burning softwood lumber trade dispute between the two countries.
The two sides met in Washington as a prelude to what they expect to be an intensive three-day meeting to be held in Ottawa Sept. 18-20.
“We have found there was enough common ground to continue to try and find a durable solution as an alternative to litigation,” said a spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
“We have decided to continue working to see if we can find a durable alternative to litigation,” said a spokesperson for Pierre Pettigrew, Canada's Minister of International Trade.
The U.S. government on August 10 imposed a preliminary 19.3-percent duty on Canadian lumber imports, which was retroactive to mid May. The duty could force Canadian lumber producers to pay more than $1 billion in duties, based on the $10 billion in annual imports into the U.S. market.
The U.S. government and lumber industry claims that provincial Canadian governments subsidies and dumping has allowed the Canadian softwood lumber imports to sell at below market value. The provincial Canadian governments control about 95 percent of timber rights, while most of the U.S. timber is privately owned and sold at auction.