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Donald Trump’s policy on trade since becoming U.S. president has been all about putting “America First.” But in one corner of the commodity world, his actions are having the opposite effect.

In a move intended to protect the domestic lumber industry, the U.S. this year slapped duties of as much as 31 per cent on imports of timber from Canada, which supplies more than a quarter of what American builders use each year. Prices surged, increasing costs for American buyers — and boosting profit for Canadian producers.

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Canada-U.S. softwood deal possible by next month: forestry analyst

The framework for a 10-year softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States could be reached in the coming weeks, an industry analyst says, citing discussions with unnamed trade contacts.

In a report released on Thursday, Hamir Patel of CIBC World Markets Inc. said a deal setting quotas on Canadian softwood exports could be acceptable to the U.S. lumber industry if Canada drops several demands. That would include withdrawing a request that New Brunswick be excluded from any softwood agreement restrictions, Mr. Patel said.

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By: The Working Forest Staff
June 30, 2017

In an open letter to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the CEO of Weston Forest points out the job creation benefits of remanufacturing operations, and how they are negatively affected by the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber dispute. Rick Ekstein’s letter, “Softwood Lumber and the Forgotten Value-Added Sector,” is posted on the web site of the C.D. Howe Institute, a research institute focused on public policy, and reprinted below.

To: The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
From: Rick Ekstein
Date: June 19, 2017
Re: Softwood Lumber and the Forgotten Value-Added Sector

There has been much press lately about the Canada-US Softwood Lumber dispute.

The US position has always been that Canada’s provincial governments, which own the majority of our forests, price their timber at below-market prices to give Canadian sawmills an unfair advantage.

Having been in this business my entire life, I can tell you that decades ago this may have been true. Most provinces did use timber pricing as a form of social policy to ensure sawmills stayed open in remote regions, promoting employment in these areas. Today, as a result of the four major lumber battles over the past 30 years, this is no longer true. Today, market forces and physical access are the largest drivers of timber pricing.

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Softwood Lumber, Part V

History repeating itself.

Published: June 6, 2017

It is a well-understood fact around the globe that Canada and the United States are friends, neighbours and business partners. We enjoy the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world, dating back centuries.

More recently, economic integration between the two countries has increased and has been fostered by the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1989, followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

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Tilting At Sawmills: America’s Shameful Approach To The Softwood Lumber Dispute With Canada

Published: November 29, 2016

Donald Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement the “worst trade deal ever negotiated.” If he were speaking on behalf of Canadian exporters or American consumers of softwood lumber, his point would have some validity. For more than 20 years, NAFTA has failed to deliver free trade in lumber. Instead, a system of managed trade has persisted at the behest of rent-seeking U.S. producers, egged on by Washington lawyers and lobbyists who know a gravy train when they see one.

Those who consider the United States a beacon of free trade in a swirling sea of protectionist scofflaws will be surprised by the sordid details of the decades-long lumber dispute between the United States and Canada. Among those details is the story of how the U.S. Commerce Department (DOC) ran roughshod over the rule of law to manufacture the leverage needed to extort from Canadian lumber mills a sum of $1 billion, which was used to line the pockets of American mills and the U.S. Forestry Service, while restricting lumber imports for nearly a decade through October 2015, at great expense to retailers, builders, and home buyers.

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