FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant met with United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. in Washington today to discuss trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement and softwood lumber.

Ross is a senior member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet and is responsible for negotiating the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

“The trading relationship between Canada and the United States is important to both countries’ economies,” said Gallant. “This meeting was an opportunity to strengthen that relationship and to discuss issues that are important to New Brunswickers.

“The majority of our conversation was about the Softwood Lumber Agreement. I argued why New Brunswick should be a part of the exclusion we have enjoyed since 1982.”

The softwood lumber industry 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.