VICTORIA, B.C. — Friday’s World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. is being lauded as a major victory for Canada.
"It’s about as strong a decision as we could have hoped to achieve," said B.C. Forest Minister, Mike de Jong following the ruling that the 27 per cent duties are unfair. "The U.S. legal position has been dramatically weakened."
B.C. Lumber Trade Council president, John Allan, tells local media the ruling "has driven a stake through the heart of the U.S. case."
The ruling favored Canada’s case in eight of nine technical areas, and slammed the U.S. method of calculating duties. The WTO, however, did rule that stumpage rates are a contribution to companies, which is what the U.S. has been arguing for some time. But while the WTO ruling is reason for optimism, de Jong says it’ll still be a lengthy battle to get the duties reversed.
"The dilemma we face with the WTO and NAFTA is the length of time it takes to get them and then the fact that they are appealable almost in perpetuity," says de Jong. "Three years from now we may end up with a final, final, final decision, but there is a lot of pain felt along the way."
Some observers are hopeful the WTO ruling will bring U.S. negotiators back to the table so a solution can be made through negotiations.
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