Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell responded today to British Columbia and Canada's total victory in an arbitration panel's ruling on B.C.'s timber pricing policies under the 2006 Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA).
Today's ruling by the London Court o f International Arbitration proves that British Columbia's market-based timber pricing policies are fully
consistent with the SLA, and that B.C. has always honoured its commitments under the agreement. The arbitration panel dismissed the U.S.'s complaint in its entirety.
"This is a total victory for British Columbia and Canada and is great news for B.C.'s lumber workers and their families," said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell. "Our government has worked hard to defend and create jobs for British Columbians and to demonstrate that the U.S.'s complaints were unwarranted and groundless."
A 2011 complaint filed by the U.S. alleged that B.C. was selling softwood at less than market value, given an increase in the harvest of low-grade timber. The increased amount of low-grade timber in B.C. is the result of the unprecedented and devastating mountain pine beetle infestation. B.C.'s auction-based pricing system ensures that the full value of timber has been captured by government.
B.C. and Canada have maintained it would have been far more productive for the U.S. lumber industry to join them to increase demand for wood products across North America, such as what B.C. is doing with its Wood First initiative.
In the meantime, British Columbia has diversified its lumber export markets during the arbitration period. As part of 'Canada Starts Here: The
BC Jobs Plan' and through recent trade missions abroad by Premier Christy Clark and Bell, the B.C. government has focused on developing Asian markets, experiencing tremendous growth in recent years. For example, B.C. has more than doubled its lumber exports to China each of the past three years, helping to put people back to work in mills throughout the province.
B.C. will continue to support the SLA, originally signed in October 2006, to create a predictable trade environment and to provide stability and
certainty to producers and consumers on both sides of the border. Canada has signed an extension to the agreement to October 2015.
To find out more about the Softwood Lumber Agreement, visit www.jti.gov.bc.ca/softwood/index.htm