British Columbia’s softwood trade envoy says there’s a slight opportunity to quickly negotiate a new lumber agreement between Canada and the United States, but if a deal can’t be reached by the summer or fall it could mean a lengthy fight.
David Emerson said Wednesday he sensed a chance at a deal but also saw continued turbulence in the administration of President Donald Trump and strong protectionist sentiments in the US Congress after visiting Washington, DC, last week.
“My own guess is there is a window of opportunity, late summer or early fall, and if that doesn’t initiate something meaningful in terms of negotiations then I think we’re probably into next year,” he said.
Emerson said there has not been a formal start to talks, but Canadian officials in Washington and Ottawa are preparing for negotiations. He said he met with David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the US, last week as well as officials at Canada’s embassy and Global Affairs Canada.
He said he would rather see the softwood deal, which expired in October 2015, negotiated separately than folded in with talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).