Canada Satisfies U.S. Lumber Concerns

Article excerpt

The United States and Canada yesterday reached an agreement on Canadian softwood lumber exports, ending a trade dispute that has been festering for 14 years.

U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor announced the agreement late yesterday, saying it would "provide necessary relief and the level playing field that U.S. companies and workers have sought for so long."

The agreement will have "negligible, if any" effect on the price of houses in the United States, Mr. Kantor said.

The five-year accord, effective April 1, ends U.S. threats to retaliate with tariffs, but Mr. Kantor warned the Clinton administration would impose retroactive tariffs if Canada fails to live up to its end of the bargain.

Canadians agreed to take action on their own side of the border as a concession to U.S. timber industry officials who say cheaper-priced Canadian wood is undercutting domestic producers, Mr. Kantor said.

"It clearly demonstrates the tremendous commitment we share to maintain a strong trading relationship," Mr. Kantor said.

Under the pact, British Columbia, Canada's biggest lumber exporter, will impose an export tax and quotas. Other provinces will increase the prices logging companies pay for the government-owned trees.

The moves should result in a 14 percent reduction in the amount of lumber arriving in the United States from British Columbia annually. …