U.S., Canada lumber talks stalled, litigation looms: sources

Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:41pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, June 10 (Reuters) - Talks between Canada and the United States to resolve a dispute over exports of softwood lumber are making little progress and the matter likely will return to the courts, sources familiar with the negotiations said on Friday.

U.S. producers complain that Canadian softwood lumber is subsidized, and have in the past launched trade challenges that resulted in the United States imposing billion of dollars in tariffs.

The most recent round of arguments ended with a 2006 deal that expired in October 2015. Both sides agreed to take no action for a year after that, but without a new agreement, U.S. firms look set to file new damage claims.

"The two sides are so far apart right now that a deal looks very unlikely," said one person familiar with the talks.

In March, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked officials to work out possible solutions and report back within 100 days.

Although the deadline runs out on June 18, Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said the sides would work until June 29, when Obama and Trudeau meet in Ottawa.

"It's a really tough issue and what we're looking for is a good deal. There is a lot of work we have to do," Freeland said.

Representatives from the sides held talks in Canada last month - a meeting that one source described as "not a success" - and in the United States this week.   Continued...