Pettigrew calls on U.S. to respond in softwood dispute

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NEW YORK, N.Y. — International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew is demanding that the U.S. table a counterproposal when negotiators meet again later this week to discuss the softwood lumber dispute.

New talks on the long-standing dispute have been scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Ottawa.

Last August, the United States imposed a 19.3 per cent provisional duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The duty expired under international rules on Dec. 15, but at that point an anti-dumping duty of 12.6 per cent had been introduced and is still in effect.

Canada has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the U.S. Commerce Department’s subsidy determination is invalid.

Pettigrew said negotiating a bilateral deal with the U.S. is preferable. The WTO route simply takes too long – up to six more months.

“We are negotiating to save time,” says Pettigrew.

“I know very well that legally we will win that challenge if we have to pursue that track uniquely. But we have a lot of people in a lot of communities that are hurting very badly in the meantime.”

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