PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — After three days of discussions with U.S. representatives about the softwood lumber quarrel, Forests Minister Mike De Jong is "cautiously optimistic" a deal can be reached.
The recent Northern Forest Products Association community dinner in Toronto provided De Jong with the chance to discuss the 19 per cent softwood duty slapped on Canadian softwood with key U.S. players.
Although a deal wasn’t hammered out, De Jong insists progress was made.
"I’m guardedly, cautiously optimistic," De Jong tells local media. "Optimistic enough to have agreed to schedule three more days in Washington, D.C. next week. But let’s not overstate it. We did not get a deal and I don’t expect us to have a deal at the end of next week."
De Jong says he is still working toward establishing a market-based stumpage system that would alleviate some of the concerns south of the border. However, he cautions that even once the stumpage system is revamped, there will still be complaints from U.S. lumber producers.
"If you acknowledge that the American industry is probably interested in one thing only and that is their financial well-being, which means that they are, at the end of the day, more interested in limiting Canadian exports into their country however they might accomplish that," says De Jong.
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