Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports Supports U.S. Government Action to Seek Enforcement of U.S.-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement



    WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 /CNW/ -- The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports today
welcomed the announcement by the United States Trade Representative that the
United States has initiated official arbitration proceedings against Canada to
resolve issues relating to Canada's non- compliance with certain terms of the
U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement. This announcement was accompanied by a
U.S initiative to implement measures designed to enhance the monitoring of
imports of softwood lumber products from Canada to ensure that they fully
comply with the terms of the bilateral agreement.
    The United States was forced to initiate this arbitration proceeding in
light of Canada's repeated refusals to properly implement the agreement.  The
United States and the U.S. lumber industry have not asked for any concession
from Canada, rather they merely demand that Canada honor its commitments.
Canada is in clear violation of the agreement as it has: failed to fully
collect the required border taxes, including surge taxes on exports from
British Columbia and Alberta; failed to properly administer the export quota
system; and failed to stop providing new tax payer-funded subsidies to its
industry.
    Under the terms of the agreement, either party can request a binding
dispute settlement ruling by the London Court of International Arbitration.  A
ruling in the favor of the United States would result in significant export
tax liabilities for Canadian softwood lumber exporters and a tightening of
permissible export quotas to comport with the terms of the agreement.
Currently available data indicate that through May 2007, Canada's mounting
under-collection of required export taxes totals at least US$116 million and
provinces' over-quota shipments is estimated to be 522 million board feet.
    Coalition Chairman Steve Swanson stated that "the Coalition supports the
initiatives taken today by the U.S. Government as Canada has unilaterally and
without consultation undermined the softwood lumber agreement by refusing to
implement key terms."  Swanson continued, "the required tax and quota limits
on shipments are essential to remedy Canada's unfair trade practices. Canada's
failure to honor its commitments under the agreement continues to severely
harm the U.S. lumber industry which is suffering curtailments and layoffs
caused by production cutbacks that are occurring at twice the rate in the
United States compared to our subsidized Canadian counterparts."
    In addition to the violations being challenged under the arbitration
process, Canada is also failing to honor several other provisions of the
agreement.  The Coalition is disappointed that U.S.-Canada consultations
failed to resolve Canada's current breaches of the agreement terms.  "Canada
agreed to a very specific set of terms during the negotiation, and these
obligations are clearly reflected in the final text of the agreement.  All we
ask is that Canada lives up to its commitments and honors the terms of the
agreement.  We will continue to defend our rights by working with the U.S.
government to ensure that we get everything we bargained for," concluded
Swanson.
    
    About the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports
    
    The U.S. Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports is an alliance of large and
small lumber producers from around the country, joined by hundreds of
thousands of their employees, and tens of thousands of woodland owners. The
Coalition is united in opposition to Canada's unfair lumber-trade practices,
including its gross under-pricing of timber.  For more information, please
visit the Coalition's website at http://www.fairlumbercoalition.org.




For further information:

For further information: Zoltan van Heyningen of Coalition for Fair
Lumber  Imports, +1-202-862-3686 Web Site: http://www.fairlumbercoalition.org

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U.S. COALITION FOR FAIR LUMBER IMPORTS

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