(No. 28 - January 18, 2011 - 3 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. request for arbitration with Canada under the Softwood Lumber Agreement:
“The U.S. complaint deals with a pricing system that is no longer in place.
“Canada and British Columbia have been transparent on B.C.’s market-based timber pricing system. The increased proportion of low-value logs in B.C.’s timber harvest is due to the unprecedented infestation of the mountain pine beetle. Regrettably, the United States continues to rely on unfounded allegations that are flatly contradicted by trade and other economic data.
“I am disappointed that the United States has rejected cooperative dialogue on this matter in favour of formal dispute settlement. There is no justification for arbitration, and Canada will vigorously defend the interests of its softwood lumber industry.
“The Softwood Lumber Agreement was negotiated with a view to establishing stability, enhancing cooperation and facilitating an open dialogue between Canada and the United States.
“The Softwood Lumber Agreement has been in effect since October 2006. The Agreement was designed to create a predictable trade environment, and to provide stability and certainty to producers and consumers on both sides of the border. It put an end to unproductive trade litigation and has served both countries’ industries well during the recent global economic downturn.”
Under the Softwood Lumber Agreement, the arbitration will be conducted in accordance with the rules of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). A panel of arbitrators will hear the case.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade
Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada