Canada/US Softwood Lumber Negotiation Update

Last week when speaking about the softwood lumber negotiations between Canada and the US with Vaughn Palmer at the Vancouver Sun, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said, “But we just haven’t seen enough movement from the American side of the table.”

Madison’s confirmed this update with insiders to the talks:

“Both sides have exchanged proposals and agreed to consult and refine their proposals and come back together when both sides are ready.”

So there has begun some actual conversation. Meanwhile, pundits are weighing in:

Peter Clark,, May 15

“Canada’s provinces struggle to get on the same page.”

Vaughn Palmer, Prince George Citizen, May 18

“BC, along with other players on the Canadian side, prefers an export tax tied to lumber prices and exchange rates, much like the agreement that ended the last softwood dispute 10 years ago.”

Konrad Yakabuski, Globe and Mail, May 19

“But never have regional divisions been as acute as they are now. A 2013 market-based reform of stumpage fees has prompted Quebec producers to insist on nothing less than free trade, while BC producers are willing to buy trade peace by accepting an export tax again.

“We are seeking an agreement with all regions and partners in mind,” offered Alex Lawrence, a spokesperson for Canada’s International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland. “Our objective is to ensure stable access to the US market for Canadian softwood lumber.

“Ms. Freeland and US Trade Representative Michael Froman talked softwood when they met at a gathering this week in Peru, and set the agenda for further negotiations next week in Ottawa.”