(Adds detail of negotiations, context, full quote)
WASHINGTON Oct 12 The top U.S. and Canadian
trade negotiators said on Wednesday they would continue talks
toward a new trade agreement on softwood lumber, despite the
expiration of a "standstill" period prohibiting legal challenges
over the long-standing dispute.
U.S. producers complain that Canadian lumber is subsidized,
and they have in the past launched trade challenges that
resulted in the United States imposing billions of dollars in
In a joint statement, U.S. Trade Representative Michael
Froman and Canadian Minister of International Trade Chrystia
Freeland said negotiators were meeting in Washington this week.
"In those negotiations, we will work to meet the mandate
agreed to by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau when they met in Ottawa in June - a new agreement that
is designed to maintain Canadian exports at or below an
agreed-upon U.S. market share to be negotiated, with the
stability, consistency and flexibility necessary to achieve the
confidence of both industries," they said in a joint statement.
"The softwood lumber industry is a vital sector for both the
United States and Canada," they added.
The most recent round of arguments ended with a 2006 deal
that expired in October 2015. Both sides agreed to take no
action for a year after that, but without a new treaty, U.S.
firms have made clear they will file new damage claims.
Major Canadian lumber firms include Canfor Corp,
West Fraser Timber Co, Interfor Corp and
Resolute Forest Products Inc.
(Reporting by David Lawder in Washington and Andrea Hopkins in
Ottawa; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)