VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he was “very hopeful” of getting a deal with the United States on softwood lumber, which has become an escalating trade dispute ahead of NAFTA talks this month.
The dispute which has festered for decades was ratcheted up when the United States imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties averaging 20 percent on Canadian softwood lumber exports in June.
U.S. producers have said Canada unfairly subsidizes its lumber producers with low fees on timber cut on public land.
“We are very hopeful that we are going to be able to get to a deal,” Trudeau said in a television interview with Global News.
“As we embark on the NAFTA renegotiations and improvements, people know that this is one that we need to make sure that we are settling right.”
British Columbia Premier John Horgan told Reuters in an interview last week he was hopeful the spat could be resolved before negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begin.
Horgan met with U.S. officials in Washington last week, including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, to discuss the dispute.
“I’ve seen some very positive signs and a good working relationship with folks in the United States who know that we need to get this done,” Trudeau said.
Reporting by Nicole Mordant; Writing by Leah Schnurr; Editing by James Dalgleish