Negotiators prepare for U.S. lumber talks

‘We’re not in favour of strict hard-cap quotas,’ Forests Minister Steve Thomson said

B.C. and Canada have a strong position going into the latest dispute over lumber trade with the U.S., which needs imported lumber to maintain growing housing construction, industry and government representatives say.

The U.S. used 47 billion board feet of lumber in 2016 and domestic production was only 32 billion, B.C. Lumber Trade Council president Susan Yurkovich said after meetings with federal trade officials in Ottawa Monday.

Yurkovich said the U.S. wants to increase domestic lumber production, but it can’t do that quickly.

“If you don’t have that supply, what you’re going to have is a massive spike in lumber prices, which is going to push home ownership out of reach for some,” Yurkovich said. “And frankly if it’s so constrained that you push prices high enough, what you’ll bring in is European supply, or you push people to substitute, which isn’t in the best interests of the wood products industry.”

Yurkovich and B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson met with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is bracing for the reopening of the North America Free Trade Agreement as well as the now-expired side deal that restricted Canadian lumber exports to the U.S.

Thomson said it has been a frustrating two years, trying to get talks going as the system of trade quotas and border taxes was expiring, and so far there is no “common ground” on the issues.

“We have clearly said that we’re not in favour of strict hard-cap quotas,” Thomson said. “We need to look at how we have a market share in the U.S. that is reflective of a historical market.”

The U.S. International Trade Commission has made a preliminary finding of “injury’ due to alleged subsidies to Canadian wood products and the U.S. Department of Commerce is continuing its investigation.

The four largest exporting Canadian companies are responding to U.S. officials, Quebec-based Resolute and three B.C. firms, Canfor, West Fraser and Tolko. Half of Canada’s exports to the U.S. come from B.C.

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Commerce, is expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate soon. Canadian negotiators await his priorities for trade, which has been a focus for Trump’s foreign policy.

Just Posted

Lake Country rescue held for couple stuck in snow

The couple was taking late night photos when their vehicle became stuck

More early childhood educator positions created

Announcement in Kelowna for a new work experience project at the YMCA

Foundry linked with new youth mental health web site

New website to improve mental health and wellness for young people in B.C.

Kelowna woman only Canadian to train in Danish sailing program

A Kelowna sailor compares her life at sea to manning an old… Continue reading

Good Deeds: Family for the food bank

Taking advantage of the food banks purchasing power, funds were spent at Kelowna’s Superstore

Your Jan. 19 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

Letters: Peachlanders will have plenty to say at public hearing

A development proposal for Beach Ave. in Peachland, south of Kelowna, has people fired up

Kelowna’s Community Calendar

A partial listing of upcoming events in the Kelowna area

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Police seize fentanyl and other drugs from Vernon home

Five people arrested in alleged dial-a-dope operation

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Letter: Dog beach deserves nice biffy too

Kelowna letter-writer says facilities are kind of disgusting at her dog beach

Albas takes on mortgage changes in town hall

Conservative MP mostly echoed chamber of commerce concerns but sparred with one attendee on details

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Most Read