VANCOUVER—The B.C. government is investing $7.7 million to promote West Coast lumber in markets around the world as trouble with its chief trading partner looms.
Premier Christy Clark announced the fresh funding at an annual forest industry convention in Vancouver late last week.
“Forestry will always play a crucial role in communities throughout B.C.,” Clark said in a statement “By growing international demand, we are decreasing our reliance on a single market, creating more opportunity, and supporting the tens of thousands of British Columbians who rely on forestry.”
B.C.’s lumber industry accounted for about 35 per cent of the province’s total exports last year—with much of that wood heading to the U.S.
But the U.S. Commerce Department is currently investigating the Canadian lumber industry for dumping after a complaint filed by the U.S. Lumber Coalition. The 2006 Canada-U.S. softwood accord expired last October and Canadian producers could face import duties if the U.S. rules they receive subsidies from the Canadian government—a long-standing point of contention.
The new funding with support more than a dozen industry trade associations and research institutes working on development programs for B.C. wood products.
In a similar move to address the looming U.S. crisis, the B.C. government kicked off a U.S. lobbying effort this February.
Meanwhile, Clark said she expects Canada to make more headway of a lasting lumber deal with the Trump administration in the White House.
“My experience has been that the Obama administration was not particularly interested in getting a softwood deal,” Clark told reporters after delivering her keynote address at the Council of Forest Industries convention.
“I mean, they talked a nice talk and they put out nice press releases, but in all that time there wasn’t any real progress to getting a deal.”
Clark added that it will be hard to do any worse than the previous president when it comes to softwood lumber.
—With a file from Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press