Fight softwood duties with U.S. coal shipment ban, premier urges – by Andrew Duffy and Lindsay Kines (Victoria Times Colonist – April 27, 2017)

If the United States refuses to come to the negotiating table, and the legal wrangling over the softwood lumber dispute drags on, Canada may want to consider retaliatory action, according to the man tasked with representing British Columbia in the matter.

A day after the U.S. imposed duties averaging 20 per cent on lumber shipments to the U.S, David Emerson, B.C.’s special trade envoy to the U.S., said there might be means of getting the Americans to move off their stance that Canada’s lumber industry is unfairly subsidized.

Asked if there’s anything beyond the legal route Canada could do to push for a negotiated settlement, Emerson suggested retaliation is an option. “There’s always a big debate as to whether a country wants to link one trade issue with another. It’s a slippery slope and while it often happens quietly and implicitly, very seldom is it done in an open and transparent way,” Emerson said.

“I think, though, if this dispute does not show evidence of moving into a solution phase relatively expeditiously, you will see some governments in Canada look at what their options are in terms of some kind of implicit reaction or retaliation.”

But Emerson would not suggest what kind of bargaining chips — energy, water and the like — Canada may have to leverage in the dispute. However, it appeared Wednesday that Premier Christy Clark is willing to wade in. Clark calling for the Canadian government to ban thermal coal shipments — most of which originate in the U.S. — through B.C. ports on the way to Asia.

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