April 27, 2006

Canada strikes deal on lumber with United States

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has reached a seven-year deal
with the United States to settle a long-standing dispute over
exports of softwood lumber, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told
Parliament on Thursday.

Harper said that under the terms of the deal, the United
States would not impose quotas or tariffs on Canadian softwood
lumber exports under current conditions.

Harper said Washington had agreed to return a minimum of
C$4 billion (US$3.6 billion) in duties to Canada. Since the
United States imposed duties on lumber in 2002, it has
collected roughly US$4 billion.

"This is a good day," Harper said to loud cheers from
legislators from his Conservative Party.

He said the main three lumber producing provinces --
British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario -- had all signed on to
the terms of the deal.

Canadian industry officials had earlier condemned the deal
as grossly unfair and insisted all the duties be returned.

Canada's softwood exports to the United States were valued
at US$7.4 billion in 2005.

($1=$1.12 Canadian)