FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant is travelling to Washington this week to meet with United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr.

A senior member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet, Ross is responsible for negotiating the Softwood Lumber Agreement. Gallant met with Ross’ deputy secretary in June.

“New Brunswick is Canada’s most export-oriented province, so robust trade between the United States and Canada is crucial for our economy,” said Gallant. “Exports of softwood lumber to the United States create jobs in Canada and helps keep construction costs competitive for American families.”

The meeting will focus on softwood lumber and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Gallant will be asking Ross to exclude New Brunswick from countervailing duties on softwood from Canada to the United States.

Softwood lumber contributes more than $1.45 billion to the provincial economy each year, employs more than 22,000 people and is an important export for New Brunswick businesses.

Gallant and other government representatives have been lobbying the federal and American governments in support of New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry since 2014. The provincial government has made submissions to the United States Department of Commerce, demonstrating that New Brunswick has an open, fair and undistorted market for lumber.