WASHINGTON, D.C. – B.C. Special Envoy to the United States, David Emerson, has provided an update on the softwood lumber situation between Canada and the U.S.
Emerson is still in Washington but he first stopped in Ottawa met with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Québec’s Representative to the U.S., Raymond Chretien.
He says he then met with former and current officials with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, the National Association of Homebuilders and some senators.
Emerson said that he has made it clear that B.C. will stand their ground and fight on behalf of lumber producers in the Province.
“We have met with them to make sure they understand that B.C. is going to fight on behalf of our lumber producers. We would much rather find opportunities to work together with our American neighbours to find a lasting solution to this long-lived dispute.
A stable, predictable lumber supply is good for workers and the economy on both sides of the border. We know that the forest sector supports jobs in over 140 communities in B.C.”
When asked how the Trump administration plays a factor into the negotiations, Emerson said that he hopes there is a positive outcome.
“I think the unpredictability comes from not so much the administration because I think the Prime Minister has done a really good job in terms of getting off on the right foot with President Trump and you need the atmospherics of a supportive Presidential office if you want to make progress on softwood lumber and we are in relatively good shape there. The unpredictability starts to come when you factor in softwood lumber and the already starting to move negotiation on NAFTA. The Secretary of Commerce was in the media today speaking about the time frame and some of the issues that could be in play with a NAFTA negotiation and so, we don’t know to a degree of which softwood lumber per say is going to get caught up with NAFTA so we have to try and keep our head above water until we determine whether we can deal with softwood lumber before NAFTA negotiations.”
Emerson said he believes that the talks are a good start but that there is much more work to be done.
“I believe these meetings have been a good start, but there is much more work to do to ultimately secure a softwood lumber deal – which remains our goal. We have differences to overcome but we can – and we must – find a negotiated solution to this dispute for the benefit of both of our countries.”
Premier Christy Clark appointed Emerson as the Envoy to the United States on February 14, 2017.