Maritime Premiers Push Softwood Lumber With U.S. Commerce Secretary
PREMIER'S OFFICE--Maritime Premiers Push Softwood Lumber With U.S. Commerce Secretary
Premier John Hamm and his fellow Maritime premiers pushed the region's unique position in the ongoing Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute during a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 4, with United States Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
The three Maritime premiers, along with senior officials from Newfoundland and Labrador, are in Washington, D.C., this week for the Team Canada Atlantic trade mission.
"It's important for the thousands of Nova Scotians who depend on softwood lumber for their livelihoods that, as their premier, I take every opportunity possible to raise this issue," said Premier Hamm. "The United States has long recognized that Atlantic Canada has not been part of the problem and should therefore be treated as a free trading partner, distinct from the rest of Canada."
Unlike softwood lumber harvested in the rest of Canada, 75 per cent of Atlantic Canadian lumber comes from private land. As a result of this private sector focus, Atlantic Canada's producers have been exempted from all previous export taxes and quota arrangements since 1987.
Last year, the United States Department of Commerce excluded the Atlantic provinces from the current countervailing duties case and the 18.79 per cent duty levied against the rest of Canada. This past July, United States Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas agreed in principle to the exclusion of Atlantic Canada from an interim agreement had the dispute been resolved by way of a negotiated solution.
The premiers, however, are worried Atlantic Canada might be included in any new measures taken by the United States against Canada.
"In Atlantic Canada, we are free and fair traders, producing softwood lumber for export based primarily on the free market," said Premier Hamm. "We must take every opportunity to remind the United States and our own federal government that we should continue to grow and prosper through free trade, without the imposition of any new barriers."
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Premier John Hamm and his fellow Maritime leaders raised the issue of softwood lumber in a meeting Tuesday (November 4th) with U-S Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
Premier Hamm says the U-S has long recognized that Atlantic Canada has not been a part of the ongoing dispute and should be treated as such.
Unlike the rest of Canada, most of Atlantic Canada's softwood lumber comes from private lands, something the U-S has no problem with.
While the Americans have excluded Atlantic Canada from trade penalties in the past, the premiers are worried the region might be included in new measures.
Premier Hamm says thousands of Nova Scotians whose livelihoods depend on softwood lumber expect him to raise the issue at every opportunity.
The premiers are in Washington, D-C, this week for the Team Canada Atlantic trade mission.