WESTBROOK, CT — A speedy resolution to the ongoing trade dispute over Canada’s softwood lumber shipments into the U.S. is an optimistic thought for the top-ranking American official in Canada.
Although the multi-billion-dollar trade dispute isn’t on the official agenda at the meeting of New England governors and Eastern Canada premiers being held in Westbrook, CT, the issue has surfaced as elected officials and presenters talked about the importance of open and free trade between the two regions making up the northeast.
The dispute was discussed behind closed doors between Paul Celluci, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, and N.B. Premier Bernard Lord and his Canadian colleagues.
A working group of officials from both sides are preparing for their second meeting on Thursday.
“We really think that we should focus attention on the working group and if we roll up our sleeves, we can find a long-term solution to this dispute,” says Cellucci.
Lord would like the dispute, which could see the U.S. impose penalties on Atlantic Canadian lumber moving into the States, resolved once and for all.
“We need to get a resolution of this so we don’t have to face this situation every four to five years,” he says. “I want that for New Brunswick so every five years we don’t have to go through these cold sweats to know if we’re going to lose thousands of jobs.”
Quebec Premier Bernard Landry, wants his province treated like the Atlantic region. The region is aiming for an exemption from a 19 per cent countervailing duty on wood shipped into the U.S. Landry is reportedly getting fed up with the Canadian lumber industry and policies being continually questioned at the expiration of trade agreements with the U.S.