Canada-US lumber trade dispute simmers on

Taken from: BattlefordsNOW

The long-standing softwood lumber trade dispute between Canada and the US is far from over and local companies continue to face economic challenges, while the MP for Desnethé -Missinippi-Churchill River is calling for a quick settlement to matters.

According to Al Bulisky, CEO of Meadow Lake Tribal Council Industrial Investments (MLTCII) and president of NorSask Forest Products, the tariff system changed dramatically in 2017 when the Trump administration imposed new convoluted charges on Canadian lumber going to the U.S.

“In between [various trade] agreements, punitive tariffs are put on Canadian lumber and this goes back decades, so we’re in a tariff regime now and we’re paying somewhere in the area of 20 per cent on all the lumber shipments that are sold into the US housing market,” Bulisky told meadowlakeNOW.

Bulisky said $10 million in funds rest in trust at the US Department of Commerce until there is a resolution. Part of the proposed deal is that some of those funds are released back to the parties that put those funds forward.

MP Gary Vidal was in the House of Commons on Dec. 10 advocating for a softwood lumber trade agreement between Canada and the US that would see some of the funds returned to Canadian companies.

“For our lumber mill in Meadow Lake, they have over $10 million dollars tied up in softwood lumber tariffs over the last two years, ” Vidal said Wednesday. “That’s huge to the community. [MLTCII] is a one hundred per cent First Nation’s owned company.”

Vidal said if that money wasn’t tied up in the tariffs it could go back into community investment.

Nearly 60 to 70 per cent of NorSask Lumber’s finished products are shipped to the United States.

Vidal noted a deal should get done quickly and correctly and he and his colleagues were waiting for a briefing around what happened with the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal announced Tuesday.

“Our point wasn’t [just] about getting it done quickly but also right, so that we don’t have to give away so many concessions in order to get it done,” Vidal said.

Vidal added the money returned could be invested back into housing, recreation facilities, education or to invest in social services.