Time to draw a line in the sand on the softwood lumber dispute—report

March 31, 2005

OTTAWA—It’s time to play hardball with the US Administration on the long-running softwood lumber dispute, says a report released today by the CCPA.

The report, entitled Time to Draw a Line in the Sand: NAFTA and the Softwood Lumber Dispute by CCPA Executive Director Bruce Campbell, comes on the heels of last week’s NAFTA leaders’ meeting in Texas and negotiations among officials in Toronto, which have produced no significant progress.

For two decades Canada has fought US lumber trade actions under NAFTA, at the World Trade Organization and at its predecessor the GATT. In the current round, now in its fourth year, the US trade agencies have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid complying with the legal rulings, and are bent on trashing the NAFTA dispute process.

“If, as expected, Canada wins the legal battle and the US still refuses to remove the duty and return the duties collected from Canadian producers, if it persists in asserting that US law trumps NAFTA, then Canada should invoke a little-known, but powerful and as yet unused provision that would allow it to trigger a bilateral process on the grounds that the US is violating the Agreement,” said Campbell. 

“A win, which is likely, would give Canada the right to actually withdraw benefits it has extended the United States under NAFTA. The most obvious candidates for the withdrawal of benefits are the investment provisions--for example, national treatment for US investors or Chapter 11 investor-state privileges for US corporations, and the energy-sharing provisions,” Campbell added.

“The government should not cave in to pressure for a premature (and unfavourable) settlement of the lumber dispute, otherwise the US government will continue to trample over us whenever they have an important interest to protect. It is time to draw a line in the sand,” he concluded.


Time to Draw a Line in the Sand: NAFTA and the Softwood Lumber Dispute is available on the CCPA web site: www.policyalternatives.ca

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications Officer at 613-563-1341 x306.