Trump election casts shadow on softwood lumber trade

Donald Trump's crusade against NAFTA could embolden the U.S. Lumber Coalition to renew its battle against B.C. lumber exports

One of a series of articles on the future of the B.C. forest industry. You can follow the series on Facebook or Twitter by searching for the hashtag #BCForestFuture.

Negotiators for B.C.’s now-expired softwood lumber deal with the U.S. now know who they’re facing in an effort to find an acceptable quota for Canadian wood exports – anti-trade crusader Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign speeches focused on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), characterizing it as the worst trade deal the country has ever made and promising to renegotiate it. NAFTA allows a partner to withdraw with six months notice, but it does not cover Canadian lumber exports, more than half of which come from B.C.

B.C.’s government and forest industry continue to market wood products in Asia, with Forests Minister Steve Thomson leading his annual trade mission to Japan and China in late November. Asian lumber purchases peaked in 2014, briefly exceeding U.S. sales before the American housing market recovery continued and Chinese demand began to slow.

RELATED: Premier Christy Clark congratulates Trump on election win

The last Canada-U.S. agreement was signed in 2006 and its protection against trade actions expired in October. It had provisions for an export tax or a quota, and B.C. opted for the tax that kicked in depending on the selling price.

UBC forestry professor Harry Nelson says the U.S. Lumber Coalition is seeking a quota this time, to restrict supply and keep prices higher for American customers. And Canadian or B.C. government efforts to develop the industry, from technology to replanting, could also be targets of U.S. lumber interests.

“Investments in forest stewardship, competitiveness and innovation could all become targets of a future lawsuit by the U.S. Lumber Coalition, which has charged that the Canadian forestry companies have an unfair advantage over U.S. producers,” Nelson wrote in a commentary in The Globe and Mail on Nov. 9.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with U.S. President Barack Obama in June, where they acknowledged there is more cross-border ownership of forest products companies and agreed in principle to a cap on Canadian exports to the U.S. Thomson says discussions are continuing, but there has been no announcement of progress since then.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

IN PHOTOS: 2020 Wilgress Lake Fishing Derby

Fishermen dotted Wilgress Lake for the Boundary Métis Association’s annual event

Grand Forks marches against gender violence

The Grand Forks march was part of 1 Billion Rising, a global movement against gender violence

Midway mill shutdown expected to last 8 to 10 weeks

Vaagen Fibre Canada cites low inventory, road restrictions as reason for shut down

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Students test out future careers with WorkBC visit

By far, WorkBC tour manager said, the airplane pilot station was a favourite

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

Police narrow down timeline in death of woman in West Kootenay

West Kootenay Traffic Services and BC Coroners Service working on the case

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read