Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday April 26, 2017
Canada pursues possible trade deal with China as softwood lumber dispute with U.S. heats up
Exploratory free trade talks are underway this week as Canadian and Chinese officials visit one another’s countries to discuss what a potential agreement might look like.
Chinese officials are gathering at the offices at Global Affairs Canada, while two federal ministers, International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, are in China.
In Washington on Friday, Morneau said his China trip will focus on furthering relationships with his Chinese counterparts and key industry players, while Champagne works to promote the use of Canadian lumber in home construction.
Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr will travel to China in June with forestry leaders to further look for new markets.
This broad diplomatic push comes as the U.S. looks set to impose new duties on Canadian softwood.
Joel Neuheimer, the senior director of International Trade for the Forest Products Association of Canada, said the last time the softwood industry faced duties from the U.S. — more than a decade ago — the push to find new markets in China paid off.
“If you look back to 2006 versus 2016, from a percentage point of view, we’ve really tripled our exports in forest products to the Chinese marketplace, going from five per cent of our exports to 15 per cent of our exports,” Neuheimer told CBC News.
That initial effort focused primarily on single-family home construction, he said, but looking to the future the effort will need to be expanded to selling lumber for the construction of larger buildings such as schools, libraries and apartment buildings.
“We’re looking at doing even more going forward, again taking into consideration what we’re bracing ourselves for here going forward with the United States and the harmful duties they’re about to impose on our wood products,” Neuheimer said. (Source: CBC News)