Trump election casts shadow on softwood lumber trade

Donald Trump's crusade against NAFTA could embolden the U.S. Lumber Coalition to renew its battle against B.C. lumber exports

One of a series of articles on the future of the B.C. forest industry. You can follow the series on Facebook or Twitter by searching for the hashtag #BCForestFuture.

Negotiators for B.C.’s now-expired softwood lumber deal with the U.S. now know who they’re facing in an effort to find an acceptable quota for Canadian wood exports – anti-trade crusader Donald Trump.

Trump’s campaign speeches focused on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), characterizing it as the worst trade deal the country has ever made and promising to renegotiate it. NAFTA allows a partner to withdraw with six months notice, but it does not cover Canadian lumber exports, more than half of which come from B.C.

B.C.’s government and forest industry continue to market wood products in Asia, with Forests Minister Steve Thomson leading his annual trade mission to Japan and China in late November. Asian lumber purchases peaked in 2014, briefly exceeding U.S. sales before the American housing market recovery continued and Chinese demand began to slow.

RELATED: Premier Christy Clark congratulates Trump on election win

The last Canada-U.S. agreement was signed in 2006 and its protection against trade actions expired in October. It had provisions for an export tax or a quota, and B.C. opted for the tax that kicked in depending on the selling price.

UBC forestry professor Harry Nelson says the U.S. Lumber Coalition is seeking a quota this time, to restrict supply and keep prices higher for American customers. And Canadian or B.C. government efforts to develop the industry, from technology to replanting, could also be targets of U.S. lumber interests.

“Investments in forest stewardship, competitiveness and innovation could all become targets of a future lawsuit by the U.S. Lumber Coalition, which has charged that the Canadian forestry companies have an unfair advantage over U.S. producers,” Nelson wrote in a commentary in The Globe and Mail on Nov. 9.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with U.S. President Barack Obama in June, where they acknowledged there is more cross-border ownership of forest products companies and agreed in principle to a cap on Canadian exports to the U.S. Thomson says discussions are continuing, but there has been no announcement of progress since then.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The portion of highway is down to single-lane alternating traffic. Photo: Connor Trembley
Commercial trailer catches fire near Castlegar

Traffic was delayed along Hwy 3

Numbers indicate positive COVID-19 tests, January through September. Map: BC Centre for Disease Control
Twenty-five cases of COVID-19 reported in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in 2020

New data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows numbers of cases per community

Castlegar Search and Rescue members practicing their skills at the Kinnaird Bluffs. Photo: submitted
Why search and rescue is a free, non-judgmental service in B.C.

Castlegar Search and Rescue talks about why they do what they do

Katrine Conroy has won for the fifth time in the Kootenay West riding. Photo: Submitted
Katrine Conroy ready to tackle challenges after election

Conroy won the Kootenay West riding for the fifth time

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read