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US and Canada Hammering out Lumber Deal

Bloomberg Politics

Canada’s envoy to Washington says President Donald Trump’s administration is interested in a quick deal to end a softwood lumber dispute although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government sees no imminent agreement.

Ambassador David MacNaughton said last week U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told him it would be good to get a softwood deal before renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, due to begin as early as August.

However, MacNaughton said a deal is “a long way away” with a second round of duties on Canadian lumber expected this month. Canada Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also said a new pact on softwood — one of the most persistent trade spats between the U.S. and its second-largest trading partner — isn’t imminent.

The dispute is raising the cost of lumber in the U.S., contributing to a more than 18 percent surge in wood prices from the end of January to mid-May, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report. Additional U.S. duties are expected to further lift lumber prices as Canadian companies including West Fraser Timber Co. and Canfor Corp. offset the cost.

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