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Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley offered his support today to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for his decision to request arbitration with Canada under the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) regarding the under-pricing of timber harvested from public lands in British Columbia.
“Canada has a formal trade agreement with the United States, but our friends to the North continue to ignore their responsibility by subsidizing Canadian softwood lumber exports,” said Merkley. “By undercutting American timber prices, Canada is unfairly undercutting American workers and Oregon’s timber industry. Ambassador Kirk is right on target in requesting arbitration. This action is essential in standing up for American timber companies and American jobs.”
Senator Merkley has pushed the Obama Administration to take a strong stand against Canadian violations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement. In a one-on-one phone call in September 2010, Senator Merkley urged Ambassador Kirk to request formal consultations to address Canada’s violation of the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement. Following that call, the United States requested formal consultations with Canada under the SLA. According to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, consultations were held in October 2010, but did not resolve the matter.
By providing government-owned timber to Canadian lumber companies at a rate significantly below market value, British Columbia has engaged in unfair competition and put American workers and the nation’s timber industry in jeopardy.