Members of Maine's congressional delegation said they're disappointed with a recent decision related to a softwood lumber dispute between the United States and Canada. The London Court of International Arbitration yesterday ruled that British Columbia's timber pricing practices don't violate the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.
In a press release, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said the ruling "is a setback for hardworking American mill workers, and will mean that the lumber industry in Maine and across the country will continue to operate at a sizable disadvantage." The two countries signed the agreement in 2006 to resolve disputes over Canada's subsidizing of its lumber exports, and earlier this year agreed to extend it until October 2015.
In 2011 the United States requested arbitration, alleging British Columbia was misclassifying its exports to avoid higher prices. Also last year, a London international court found that Canada breached its obligations under the agreement by instituting provincial assistance programs to help the softwood lumber industry in Quebec and Ontario. As a result, Canada began imposing additional export duties in March 2011.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said the most recent decision will impact Maine sawmills and lumber retailers, and that the agreement should be revisited to ensure it "adequately protects U.S. businesses and workers from unfair trade practices."