B.C. trade representative David Emerson and Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton speak to reporters at the B.C. legislature Thursday. (Photo: Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

U.S. ambassador ‘optimistic’ about softwood talks

Canada’s diplomat in Washington reports good cooperation on trade so far from Trump adminstration

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. says it’s too early to say how the Donald Trump administration will approach lumber trade, but he’s optimistic about the general approach to Canada so far.

U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton visited the B.C. legislature Thursday to brief Premier Christy Clark and David Emerson, the former federal cabinet minister retained as B.C.’s new trade envoy in Washington D.C.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, MacNaughton said there won’t be clarity until a new commerce secretary is appointed to the Trump cabinet, but he has had good cooperation from U.S. officials including Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, senior advisor Steve Bannon and others.

“They see it as being a small, regional issue, and I think the most important thing we did was to impress on them how important it is to Canada,” MacNaughton said. “It’s a national issue that affects hundreds of communities right across the country. I think they got the message.”

The U.S. International Trade Commission has made a preliminary finding of “injury’ due to alleged subsidies to Canadian wood products, and the U.S. Department of Commerce is continuing its investigation.

Clark said the previous Barack Obama administration was preoccupied with the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Trump has since rejected. Repeated offers from Canadian lumber negotiators were ignored by the previous government.

“The change in the United States could signal we have an opportunity for a change in attitude about how important getting a softwood lumber agreement,” Clark said.

Emerson, whose experience with lumber trade goes back to his time as B.C. deputy finance minister in the 1980s and later CEO of Canfor Corp., said the U.S. industry has changed since he was last involved in negotiations 10 years ago, and a “whole new assessment” of the political scene is needed.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

At-home learning for SD67 students to begin April 6

In-classroom learning remains suspended due to COVID-19

Second Vernon-area high school exposed to COVID-19

Kalamalka Secondary School staff, students urged to self-isolate if showing symptoms

COVID-19: BC Transit to limit passengers on Penticton buses

The change is to promote physical distancing

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen cancels April 2 meeting

Staff working to install videoconferencing system during COVID-19 pandemic

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Food Banks BC already seeing surge in demand due to COVID-19 pandemic

Executive director Laura Lansink said they expect applications will keep increasing

Nanaimo couple caught aboard cruise ship with four dead and COVID-19 present

Four ‘older guests’ have died on Holland America’s Zaandam; cruise line confirms two COVID-19 cases

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen cancels April 2 meeting

Staff working to install videoconferencing system during COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read