OTTAWA – Canada and the United States have made progress in recent days on a dispute over Canadian lumber exports "but we are not there yet", Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday.
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Freeland, speaking to reporters on a conference call, also said the United States should treat Canada with respect, given that Canada is a major supplier of softwood.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday announced tariffs on Canadian lumber exports, which U.S. producers complain are unfairly subsidized. The move triggered the fifth formal bilateral dispute over Canadian lumber in less than 40 years.
Freeland said she had had long conversations with Ross on Sunday and Monday about lumber.
"We have made progress ... but we are not there yet," she said. "We do believe a negotiated deal is achievable. There is a deal to be had ... but we are also absolutely prepared to fight this out in the courts."
Freeland, who described the tariffs as "punitive, unfair and just plain wrong", said Canada would strongly defend its domestic industry.