9/12/2018 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Jack Reed (D-RI) sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Ambassador Robert Lightizer, U.S. Trade Representative yesterday encouraging the Administration to reach a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada, as the previous agreement expired in 2015. This trade agreement is separate from the President’s ongoing efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Hoeven (R-ND), Doug Jones (D-AL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

The Senators write: “The United States and Canada have enjoyed a long and prosperous trade relationship that has benefited the economies of both nations. Of particular importance to this relationship has been trade in softwood lumber, or lumber commonly used for wood-frame residential construction and for interior and finishing purposes, such as window and door manufacturing…”

They continue: “We urge the United States negotiate with Canada in a renewed effort to reach a new softwood lumber agreement. As part of these negotiations, we understand that you are required to consider the perspective of domestic producers. It is our hope that in negotiating a new agreement with Canada, you will take into account not only the impact of price fluctuations on the domestic lumber industry, but also on those secondary industries and consumers that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being.”

Read the full letter here and below:

Dear Secretary Ross and Ambassador Lighthizer:

We write to you regarding the status of softwood lumber trade negotiations between the United States and Canada.

The United States and Canada have enjoyed a long and prosperous trade relationship that has benefited the economies of both nations. Of particular importance to this relationship has been trade in softwood lumber, or lumber commonly used for wood-frame residential construction and for interior and finishing purposes, such as window and door manufacturing.

While critical to the economies of both the United States and Canada, bilateral trade in softwood lumber has been historically contentious. Since the early 1980s, numerous disputes have disrupted trade patterns, leading to unnecessary cost increases for industries that rely on softwood lumber, and straining the relationship with one of our most important allies.

In 2006, the United States and Canada signed the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), establishing a system of fees and quotas on Canadian imports to the United States that can be triggered in response to fluctuations in the market price of softwood lumber. This agreement brought about a period of relative stability in the trade of softwood lumber between the United States and Canada.

The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on October 12, 2015. With no follow on agreement in place and new tariffs being imposed averaging just over 20 percent, lumber prices have skyrocketed, hitting an all-time high in June of this year. We urge the United States negotiate with Canada in a renewed effort to reach a new softwood lumber agreement. As part of these negotiations, we understand that you are required to consider the perspective of domestic producers. It is our hope that in negotiating a new agreement with Canada, you will take into account not only the impact of price fluctuations on the domestic lumber industry, but also on those secondary industries and consumers that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being. This will ensure the entire United States economy is taken into consideration.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to working on this with you moving forward.

Sincerely,