US, Canada lumber row heats up

Winnipeg, August 28:

Canadian officials remained defiant yesterday in their stand against Washington over a three-year lumber dispute, dismissing a call from the US ambassador to stop their ‘emotional’ comments. Canada’s industry minister David Emerson denounced comments made by US ambassador David Wilkins in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board and published yesterday that suggested Canada had not been serious about negotiating an end to the lumber dispute. Emerson repeated his warnings that Canadians could be facing a trade war. “Candidly, Canadians have to decide as a small trading economy, are we going to stand together?” Emerson said at that start of a federal cabinet meeting in Winnipeg, “Are we going to be stronger than the sum of our parts or are we going to be endlessly bickering among ourselves and allowing the bully to basically mop the floor with us?”

Wilkins called on Canada to embrace negotiations rather than trade litigation to settle the dispute that has escalated following Washington’s announcement that it would ignore a recent NAFTA appeal ruling. “Emotional press conferences are not going to settle the issue,” he said, “Canada needs to come back to the table. We need to close the door, roll up our sleeves and negotiate as need be, with good faith, and bring finality to it.” Trade minister Jim Peterson called off talks on the lumber dispute that were scheduled to begin last Monday, after Washington dismissed a NAFTA panel ruling that found Canadian subsidies to its lumber companies did not pose a threat to the US lumber industry. US trade representative pledged to keep in place pu-nitive tariffs on Canada and seek a negotiated settlement.