April 25, 2006


Softwood lumber deal appears close
(BARRIE MCKENNA AND STEVEN CHASE, 4/25/06, Globe and Mail)

Canada and the United States appear very close to a historic breakthrough in the enduring softwood lumber dispute.

Industry sources who have been briefed on the discussions told The Globe and Mail that U.S. President George W. Bush called Stephen Harper on the weekend to outline an offer. In it the United States would lift duties on Canadian lumber and return most of the $5-billion it has collected from Canadian lumber companies. [...]

Mr. Bush wants to remove a long-standing irritant from relations with his country's largest trading partner and get a deal before U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman moves to the White House as budget director. Mr. Harper has made repairing strained Canada-U.S. relations a priority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2006 12:00 AM

This report doesn't mention the best part: In return Canada will stop its program of sending south its second rate entertainers, and to repatriate some of the worst offenders. Celine Dion and Jim Carrey have already been booked for a lifetime gig at a night club in Inuvik.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 25, 2006 9:55 AM

Excellent news.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 25, 2006 10:12 AM


Are they going to take back Jillian Barberie? She has started to show her age of late, and her act has gone stale. Though Terry Bradshaw is too much of a hee-haw to even notice:)

Posted by: Brad S at April 25, 2006 12:14 PM

What's the deal with "duties"? Isn't NAFTA about free trade?

Posted by: erp at April 25, 2006 2:55 PM

"What's the deal with "duties"? Isn't NAFTA about free trade?"

Yes, and NAFTA panels have ruled that the duties are illegal. Several things have been phased out, too.

But the way these works is so:
Much logging in Canada takes place on Crown lands, just as logging takes place on government lands here. The government sets some kind of price that they charge the loggers in each case. The Canadian government charges a cheaper price, which enables Canadian loggers to charge lower prices. There are constant complaints from loggers (and, to some degree, environmentalists) that the Canadian government charges less than a "fair" price or the "real" cost of logging, and that this amounts to a subsidy of Canadian lumber.

Rather than simply saying "OK" and taking the cheap lumber, the US government has (for years-- this goes back decades) acceeded to the request of domestic loggers and put various dumping duties on Canadian lumber.

Posted by: John Thacker at April 25, 2006 3:39 PM

So, there's free trade and then there's "free" trade.

Posted by: erp at April 25, 2006 5:04 PM

Actually, the U.S. has lost every single round with the WTO and is the bad guy in this dispute. You guys pay way more for lumber than you should.

But who cares because the consumer loses, right?

The real indication of what this is about is that the "deal" being proposed limits Canadian producers to market share quotas access in the U.S. In this regard, U.S. policy is no different than the Japan policies OJ likes to ridicule.

The end result is you guys will pay more for worse quality in order to make a few loggers in Oregon happy. We're happy because we'll essentially pocket the higher prices we can charge (albeit on less volume) that were formerly collected as duties.

Posted by: Randall Voth at April 26, 2006 7:48 AM