Wyden urges changes to softwood lumber trade with Canada

July 29, 2017 GMT

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, along with six other members of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote a letter this week asking for a clean quota agreement to address what they call unfairly traded softwood lumber from Canada.

Wyden and the other senators said they want a deal that provides real relief for U.S. mills and wood product companies.

Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Mike Bennet, D-Colorado, joined in writing the letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“Any long-term agreement must stop the harmful effects of subsidized and unfairly traded Canadian lumber on fair competition with the U.S. producers,” the members wrote.

The senators also urged close consultations with the Senate Finance Committee.

“The Senate Finance Committee must be briefed fully and regularly on the details of proposals before they are made to Canada. The confidence of the public in any proposed agreement can only be secured through meaningful engagement with the people’s representatives in Congress,” the letter said.

America and Canada are currently negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement. At the same time, U.S. companies are challenging Canada’s practice of heavily subsidizing lumber production and selling dumped and subsidized products in the U.S. market, which is destroying American jobs, according to Wyden.

The letter said the American economy depends on a vibrant domestic lumber industry, one that benefits thousands of workers tied to the wood industry, as well as private landowners managing forestlands that provide material for mills.

“Completing a fair agreement will support these jobs and the American economy, particularly in rural communities across the nation. It is also an issue of fairness in trade and competition, a principle that must be upheld and backed by enforcement of U.S. trade laws,” the letter said.