Washington, DC –
US Trade Representative Rob Portman today joined Canada’s International Trade
Minister David L. Emerson and Industry Minister Maxime Bernier in announcing
that the United States and Canada have agreed on the core terms of a softwood
lumber accord. An agreement would end the more than two decade dispute that has
overshadowed the trading relationship. The details of the agreement will be
finalized over the next couple of months.
"This is a great day. Today’s agreement will resolve a long-standing dispute
– ending litigation
spanning more than two decades," said Ambassador Portman. "After multiple
lawsuits without resolution, we are now close to achieving what many thought
would never happen. There are still a few details to be finalized, but we’ve
worked hard to shape a smart, market-based solution. This wasn’t easy
– as others who have
tried before can attest."
"I want to thank our two leaders – President Bush and Prime Minister Harper. It was
their strong determination that armed these negotiations with the political will
needed to deliver a good result," continued Portman. "I also want to recognize
the heroic efforts and fresh thinking by our lead negotiators Deputy USTR Susan
Schwab and Ambassador Michael Wilson. These two accomplished negotiators and
their effective teams are to be congratulated for a job well done."
Under the terms of the agreement announced today, the United States and
Canada will end all litigation over softwood lumber and provide for unrestricted
trade in the favorable market conditions the industries have enjoyed for the
last several years and which exist today. In a weak lumber market, Canadian
exporters will pay export taxes that are adjusted as prices fall. Canadian
provinces can also choose to pay lower export taxes by limiting exports below
The agreement will also include provisions to address potential Canadian
import surges, provide for effective dispute settlement, distribute the duties
currently held by the United States, and discipline future subsidies and trade
A portion of the duties will go to the U.S. companies, which will be ending
their litigation, and an equal amount will be used to fund meritorious
initiatives in the United States.
The United States and Canada have a largely dispute-free trade relationship.
One of the irritants is a 20 year dispute over the trade of softwood lumber,
which accounts for less than 3% of our bilateral trade. Both sides have made
repeated attempts to negotiate a solution.
Under the terms of today’s agreement, all litigation will be terminated and
the antidumping and countervailing duty orders revoked. Canada has agreed to put
in place certain export measures which will be applied when the lumber market
slumps. Under market conditions prevailing today, there would be no restriction
on Canadian softwood lumber exports. Special measures will be put in place to
deal with surges in exports from individual provinces.