January 21, 2011

Idaho Delegation: Softwood Ruling Positive Step For Restoring Trade Fairness

Ruling says Canada must change softwood lumber prices, practices

Washington, DC - Members of Idaho's Congressional Delegation say a ruling today by a London Court of International Arbitration could help Idaho and U.S. timber workers and industry through improving the fairness of the lumber market, impacted by Canada's unfair trade practices. The court ruled in favor of the U.S. over trade involving Canadian lumber originating in Quebec and Ontario. The Idaho Delegation and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have also sought relief regarding below-market value lumber coming into the U.S. from British Columbia. Earlier this week, the USTR initiated arbitration proceedings in a separate case involving stumpage fees and wood classifications produced in British Columbia.

"Today's ruling by the arbitration panel is another important victory for the U.S. and for Idaho's timber industry," said Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raúl Labrador in a joint statement.

"The livelihoods of these working men and women and their communities depend on Canadian compliance with our trade agreements. In some cases, illegal subsidies have resulted in Canadian stumpage prices reduced by up to 70 percent, with the Canadians resisting repeated calls to conform to trade agreements." The ruling in this case reaffirms the judgment of the arbitration panel in 2009 that found Canadian provincial policies violated the Softwood Lumber Agreement. "We look forward to swift compliance with the ruling by the Canadians."

"All Idahoans ask for is fairness in the markets. Now, we call on Canadian leaders to quickly rectify their pricing and restore the balance of fair trade between our nations. The opportunity to sustain Idaho jobs is a much better outcome than escalating tariffs and trade barriers."

The U.S. and Canada originally entered into the softwood lumber trade agreement in 2006. Under the court's findings announced today, Canada would have to increase its export pricing and eliminate subsidization activities that have allowed its wood to undercut U.S. competition.