Softwood lumber dispute fires up trade fight between Canada, U.S.

Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:21pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States and Canada faced off on Tuesday in a renewed battle over softwood lumber that threatened to spill over into multiple other sectors, though President Donald Trump said he did not fear a trade war.

Canada vowed to resist Washington's move on Monday to impose tariffs on lumber that mostly feeds U.S. homebuilding, noting trade authorities have consistently sided with Ottawa in the long-standing dispute.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Trump on Tuesday to reject "the baseless allegations" against Canada's industry and the "unfair decision" to impose tariffs, said a statement from Trudeau's office.

"The Prime Minister stressed the government of Canada will vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry," said the statement, which nevertheless added both men agreed that a negotiated settlement was important.

A White House statement said the two leaders had a "very amicable call" about lumber imports and the U.S.-Canada dairy trade.

The heated rhetoric came amid fresh attacks from the U.S. president against Canada's dairy industry, and just two months after the two leaders held a warm meeting where Trump said the bilateral trade relationship only needed "tweaking."

"People don't realize Canada's been very rough on the United States ... They've outsmarted our politicians for years," Trump said during a meeting with agricultural leaders.

"We don't want to be taken advantage of by other countries, and that's stopping and that's stopping fast," he added.   Continued...

 
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaks about new tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber from the White House in Washington, U.S. April 25, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque