VICTORIA — British Columbia’s softwood lumber envoy says there’s a slight opportunity to negotiate a new agreement between Canada and the United States, but if a deal can’t be reached by the summer or fall it could mean a lengthy fight.
David Emerson says he senses there is a chance at a deal but he also sees continuing turbulence in the administration of President Donald Trump and strong protectionist sentiments in the U.S. Congress after visiting Washington, D.C., last week.
Emerson says there has not been a formal start to talks, but Canadian officials in Washington and Ottawa are preparing for negotiations.
He says he would rather see the softwood deal, which expired in October 2015, negotiated separately than folded in with talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
B.C. Forests Minister Steve Thomson says he was in Toronto recently for strategy meetings with federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
Thomson says those talks included plans to help B.C. communities that would face severe economic consequences if the U.S. imposes lumber tariffs on Canadian products.