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U.S. Wants To Run Out Lumber Pact

October 2, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. trade officials said Friday they do not want to renew a 1996 trade agreement with Canada that has had the effect of reducing Canadian lumber exports across the border.

U.S. officials want to let the Softwood Lumber Agreement expire in April 2001 but hope to reach a deal with Canada to settle a long-running dispute over Canadian lumber pricing.

``We believe both the governments of Canada and the United States should get out of the business of regulating lumber trade,″ Special Trade Ambassador Peter Scher wrote in a letter to Canadian International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew late last month.

Pettigrew responded Friday that Canada also may not want to renew the agreement. But he differed with Scher’s view that provincial timber pricing was an unfair trade practice.

``We, too, look forward to a time when there will be no border restrictions on our trade in softwood lumber and an end to the endless U.S. litigation aimed at limiting Canada’s market share,″ Pettigrew said in a letter to Scher.

The agreement allows Canada to ship 14.7 billion board feet of lumber to the United States each year without duties. Exports above that amount from most Canadian provinces are subject to fees of up to $106 per 1,000 board feet and up to $146 per 1,000 board feet in British Columbia.

U.S. officials claim that Canadian provinces have used ``stumpage″ _ fees charged to companies that harvest timber on provincial land _ as subsidies that reduce the price of Canadian lumber exports.

Canadian officials indicated no willingness Friday to change provincial stumpage fees, saying they are not a subsidy.

``The provinces have the right to control their own forestry practices,″ said Rodney Moore, a spokesman for the Canadian Embassy here.

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