Province Optimistic in Reaching Softwood Deal
Prince George, B.C.- Following an hour long Cabinet meeting with Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. David McNaughton, and B.C.’s Trade Envoy to the U.S. David Emerson, Premier Christy Clark is optimistic a new Softwood Lumber Agreement can be reached.Premier Clark says the previous Administration in the U.S. wasn’t interested in reaching a deal as it was focused on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. Such is not the case with the Trump Administration.
Premier Clark says while the new Administration can be “unpredictable”, that sometimes unpredictable can be good “These things are never easy, and they always take time, but the change in the United States could signal that we have a change in attitude about how important getting a Softwood Lumber Agreement is for both sides.”
Emerson says a Softwood Deal has never been an issues driven from the President’s office, “It has always been an issue driven by the U.S. protectionist lumber coalition. It has never ben an issue about the validity of British Columbia’s timber pricing system, or timber management system. It has always been about a protectionist group that accumulated tremendous power over the years, particularly in Congress .” He says since it has been more than a decade since the former Softwood deal was reached, there will need to be a reassessment of the entire situation as the landscape of the forestry sector and the Administration in the U.S. have changed ” I would not approach it as though we could just re-darn old socks and we’ll be fine. I think we have to take a fresh look at it.”
Ambassador McNaughton says its important to remember it’s only been three weeks since the Trump team came into power, and another layer of complexity is that many of President Trump’s advisors have never been in government before. “It isn’t a well oiled machine just yet, but I must tell you we’ve had nothing but cooperation from Donald Trump and his team.”
Premier Clark says Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent visit to Washington was a great beginning. “They talked about Softwood in their meeting privately” said Clark “I think that bodes well for Canada, its gets us off on the right foot in terms of getting some agreements.”