Canada could lose out in softwood lumber negotiations with the U.S. if it doesn’t get its “act together” and form a unified front, according to international trade lawyer Mark Warner.
The two governments said Wednesday said they are continuing talks to try to reach a new softwood lumber deal, even though a one-year standstill period is set to expire Thursday.
The lack of national coherence on what softwood producers all want has weakened Canada in the trade talks, Warner, principal at MAAW Law, said in an interview with BNN on Wednesday.
Warner said Canada should be trying to simplify the agreement, but instead, Canadian regions are divided over what they want from the deal.
"We haven't been able to get our act together in Canada, so there's a difference of opinion and the Americans are saying either an overall cap of exports into the United States or frankly, we're going to bring our trade cases," he said.
Differences on how the provinces currently handle lumber include a stumpage system in British Columbia -- which the U.S. alleges to be a form of subsidy -- and a more market-based system in Ontario and Quebec. The agreement also sets export charge exemptions for the Maritimes, which are now being disputed.
"We have not had a uniform position in Canada. The Americans are negotiating with a Canadian position that says 'exclude the Maritimes, treat B.C. differently,'" Warner told BNN.
"So it's not even clear that all of our producers across the country like the agreement."