Canada declares win in softwood lumber case vs United States

OTTAWA — Canada is declaring victory in a dispute with the United States over softwood lumber exports from British Columbia.A tribunal convened under the 2006 softwood lumber agreement ruled Wednesday that Canada did not circumvent the deal by shipping large quantities of pine beetle-infested lumber south of the border.International Trade Minister Ed Fast called the decision a welcome victory for workers in B.C.’s lumber industry.“We applaud the tribunal’s decision in favour of our lumber industry,” Fast said.[np-related]“This positive outcome is the result of our close collaboration with provincial and industry partners and proof that the (softwood lumber agreement) is good for Canada’s forestry sector.”The United States launched the dispute, arguing that B.C. was subsidizing wood damaged by the mountain pine beetle. The U.S. Lumber Coalition expressed bitter disappointment in the ruling by the London Court of International Arbitration.“The coalition is very disappointed that the LCIA did not find that compensatory export taxes were justified to collect the export taxes imposed under the SLA that B.C. producers have been effectively evading since 2007,” said coalition chairman Steve Swanson, who also runs the family-owned Swanson Group in Oregon.“While the coalition vehemently disagrees with the LCIA panel conclusion, we respect and appreciate the efforts of this panel and the U.S. government to grapple with the complex issues involved in this case.”British Columbia denied the province was cheating, saying American producers should have known there would be an effort to clear dead, beetle-infested timber. On Wednesday, it was declaring “total victory.”B.C. Forests Minister Pat Bell said the ruling upholds the province’s timber-pricing policies and shows the American complaints were unwarranted and groundless.Industry observers said the dispute was the most serious to date under the softwood lumber agreement, which is set to expire in October 2015, because it struck at the core of forestry policy and timber pricing.

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