September 7, 2005

Negotiate, don’t retaliate, US envoy urges Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Negotiation not
retaliation is the only way to settle the softwood lumber
dispute between Canada and the United States, the U.S.
ambassador to Canada said on Wednesday as Ottawa spurned calls
for renewed talks in the long-running spat.

"Talk of trade wars and retaliation make good copy but they
don't make good sense in my opinion. Friends negotiate, they
don't retaliate," David Wilkins, the recently appointed U.S.
envoy said.

A spokeswoman for Canada's trade minister said on Tuesday
that Ottawa was now focusing on "litigation, high-level
political intervention and advocacy" in its fight with
Washington over duties slapped on Canadian softwood in March
2002 to offset alleged subsidies and unfair pricing.

Canada was angered when Washington refused to scrap the
duties after a NAFTA panel ruled against them on August 10.

However, a few weeks later, the World Trade Organization
backed U.S. claims that imports of Canadian lumber threatened
the U.S. industry.

"If we don't (start negotiating) neither your country nor
mine will get any relief from this litigious process that has
been going on well over two decades," Wilkins told guests at a
Vancouver Board of Trade meeting in the West Coast city.

"My country wants to work this disagreement out. We want
both sides back at the negotiating table," he said.

Although anxious to kick-start talks, Wilkins, who took up
the ambassador's post nine weeks ago, said it was unlikely that
could happen soon as the U.S. administration was focused on
dealing with the impact of Hurricane Katrina.