British Columbia Forestry Minister Pat Bell denied Wednesday an accusation by Max Baucus, chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Commission, that the province has violated the 2006 softwood lumber deal between the two countries by selling B.C. lumber at “fire sale” stumpage prices.
“This is very typical of the U.S. software lumber coalition,” said Bell. “Every time lumber prices drop, they start to accuse British Columbia of very dastardly deeds. There is no substance to it. We’re confident it can be defended with the USTR [U. S. Trade Representative].”
On Wednesday, Baucus, a senior Democratic senator from the lumber state Montana, wrote U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk that B.C. violates the trade agreement with its current pricing.
“The provincial government of British Columbia is selling government-owned timber used for softwood lumber production at fire sale stumpage prices,” wrote Baucus. “Our current lumber agreement provides a set of rules to ensure fair competition, but unfortunately Canada is not living up to its end of the bargain.”