US Open to New Softwood Lumber Negotiations with Canada, Says USTR Tai

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WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – The United States is open to new negotiations with Canada to resolve a longstanding dispute over U.S. softwood lumber tariffs, but a sticking point remains, a U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Wednesday.

Tai told a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting that a new timber trade deal requires the Canadian government to address U.S. concerns that its policies amount to subsidies for producers Canadians.

“When and if Canadian industry and the Canadian government are ready to address these issues, we are ready and willing to enter into negotiations to see if we can come to some kind of agreement with Canada again,” Tai said. .

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U.S. homebuilders, grappling with inflation in the prices of lumber and other building materials, have demanded that President Joe Biden’s administration remove anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties in place on Canadian softwood lumber , ranging from 6.75% to 20.24%, depending on the producer.

“Canada has been at the table from the start, we are pleased to hear that the United States is ready to meet us there,” said Alice Hansen, spokesperson for Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Mary Ng. .

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that Biden was not considering cutting tariffs on Canadian lumber as part of potential tariff relief he was considering to fight inflation. Read more

The softwood lumber tariffs are the legacy of a decades-long trade dispute over the structure of Canada’s timber sector that could not be resolved when a quota agreement expired in 2015.

The United States said Canadian timber harvested from federal and provincial lands with low government-set stumpage fees constitutes an unfair subsidy, while most US timber is harvested from private land at market rates.

“I talk about wood almost every time I see my Canadian counterpart,” Tai told the audience, referring to Ng.

Stating that the fundamental dispute over subsidies is still a major stumbling block, Tai said any resolution would depend on Canada’s willingness to address “uneven playing fields for our industry in terms of how they govern their harvest and their industry, which has the impact of subsidies for (American) competitors”.

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Reporting by David Lawder, additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham and Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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