VANCOUVER, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - The British Columbia Lumber Trade Council
(BCLTC) responded today to a request by the Office of the United States
Trade Representative to seek arbitration under the Softwood Lumber
Agreement (SLA) on matters relating to British Columbia's interior
forest pricing system.
John Allan, President, BCLTC, commented that "the U.S. filing
fundamentally takes issue with the damage done to B.C.'s interior
timber supply by the Mountain Pine Beetle. The impact on our timber
supply has been staggering, as well as the impact on communities,
workers and families, companies and the overall provincial economy",
Allan further noted that "the B.C. industry has followed the rules and
has acted in accordance with the language of SLA which protects those
rules through grandparenting. The SLA provides that so long as B.C.
follows the practices and procedures in place the U.S. has no right to
complain that the Agreement is being breached."
The SLA is working well for the U.S. lumber industry as Canada's share
of the U.S. market has fallen significantly commensurate with ongoing
flat housing demand.
The British Columbia industry has further helped stabilize the U.S.
market by aggressively diversifying its lumber markets, including a
dramatic increase in shipments to China. This action, combined with an
anticipated reduction in long-term BC timber supply caused by the
destructive impact of the Mountain Pine Beetle could result in future
constrained lumber availability that would hinder recovery in the U.S.
With less then three years left under the SLA, the United States would
be well advised to focus its efforts on confronting these long-term
structural issues and fostering the ongoing collaborative effort on
both sides of the border to grow the market for lumber. "We are deeply
disappointed that the U.S. instead has chosen to resume protectionist
action the Agreement was meant to end", said Allan. "We've won every
prior challenge the US has brought against BC's forest policies, and
will prevail this time as well," Allan concluded.
The BCLTC represents 80% of interior lumber production and a substantial
proportion of coastal production.
SOURCE BC Lumber Trade Council
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