U.S. is not happy with BC's underpriced lumber exports
The United States has requested consultation with Canada under the Softwood Lumber Agreement. At issue is the apparent unfair under-pricing of timber harvested from public lands in the Interior region of British Columbia.
The U.S. feels that British Columbia is providing to softwood lumber producers a low-cost input for their products and circumventing the export measures provided for in the Softwood Lumber Act. Specifically at issue is the increased harvest of pine beetled killed timber at a reduced stumpage rate.
British Columbia has lowered their stumpage rate on pine beetle killed timber to $0.25 cents per cubic metre to encourage usage of the timber before the quality is too degraded.
When a consultation is requested, under the Softwood Lumber Agreement, an dispute settlement process is established allowing Canada and the U.S. to each share their views with the goal of coming to a resolution.
Madison's Lumber Reporter interviewed Pat Bell, BC’s Minister of Forests and Range. Bell said, “It is very disappointing that President Obama is talking about pulling down trade barriers, yet the US administration is entering into an arbitration over something that is clearly grandfathered into the 2006 SLA. BC has not changed any of its harvest practices since the signing of the SLA. It is no big secret that the longer the beetle kill timber is dead the less suitable it is for lumber purposes. Forest companies in BC are doing the best they can with a very poor log grade."
The consultation process is 40 days long. If no resolution is reach within 40 days, and both sides admit this is unlikely, then the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Importssoft is expected to expedite their claim for arbitration from an international court.
US Requests Canadian Softwood Lumber Consultation (Madison's Lumber Reporter)
United States Requests Consultations with Canada under Softwood Lumber Agreement (Office of the United States Trade Representative)