US Commerce chief says Canadian trade threats 'inappropriate'

Contractor concerns put B.C.’s softwood lumber industry at risk

Contractor concerns put B.C.’s softwood lumber industry at risk

Canada struck back at the United States over a lumber dispute on Friday, threatening to ban shipments of US thermal coal from Pacific ports and suggesting sanctions against products from Oregon.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross yesterday said that threats of retaliatory trade actions from Canadian officials "are inappropriate" and will not influence final US import duty determinations on Canadian softwood lumber.

Trudeau said Ottawa would study whether to stop US firms from shipping thermal coal via the Pacific province of British Columbia.

The U.S. and Canada typically enjoy a friendly trading relationship, but things have soured in recent months.

Both of these trade disputes are playing out amid a much bigger trade issue, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Washington's imposition of tariffs kicked off the fifth formal bilateral dispute over timber in less than 40 years.

The US's trade tariff would impose a 20 percent tax on Canadian softwood lumber, affecting about $5 billion in lumber exports from the country.

The government is also looking at duties against several OR industries, the BBC has learnt.

In a statement today, Clark says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has agreed to seriously review her request, which she made after the United States slapped new duties on softwood. A shortage of port capacity means some USA coal firms rely on Canada.

The Trump administration says it won't be swayed by trade threats from the Canadian government, after the northern neighbour warned it could start targeting American industries if the softwood lumber dispute drags on.

Another official said there's no intention of changing the low-drama, co-operative posture Trudeau has taken toward the White House: "This is not about the president".

Canada's move is a shift for Trudeau, who until now has been telling USA officials that bilateral trade irritants are minor, and that both nations benefit from having integrated production.

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