Obama, Trudeau See Resolution to Latest Softwood Lumber Dispute

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they expect to resolve a trade dispute between the two countries over softwood lumber.

Trudeau said he brought up the issue at a meeting with Obama in Washington on Thursday. A previous softwood agreement that included quotas for Canadian imports expired in October.

“I’m confident that we are on a track towards resolving this irritant in the coming weeks and months,” Trudeau said at a joint press conference with Obama.

The dispute dates back to 1982 and stems from an accusation by the U.S. producers that Canadian timber pricing on government land is artificially low, giving Canadian producers an advantage that should be met by tariffs on the U.S. side.

Since the 2006 deal expired last fall, the countries have been in a one-year hiatus period.

The U.S. Lumber Coalition has called on Canada to return to the table and said that, if the standstill expires without a new agreement, the U.S. will need to impose new tariffs to offset what the group calls “the unfair advantages provided to Canadian industry.”

“This issue of softwood lumber will get resolved in some fashion,” Obama said at the same press conference. “It’s been a long-standing bilateral irritant but hardly defines the nature of the U.S.-Canadian relationship.”

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