FREDERICTON (GNB) - The provincial government announced measures today to combat what it considers to be unfair trade actions undertaken by the United States government against New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry.

“These duties against New Brunswick and Canada's softwood lumber producers are unfair, unwarranted and disappointing,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also minister responsible for trade policy. “In the past four softwood lumber decisions, Canada fought the decision through litigation and was successful. Our government will support the federal government in the pursuit of legal action, and we are confident that we will prevail.”

“The forestry sector in New Brunswick is a very valued industry and employs thousands of New Brunswickers,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “We stand by our New Brunswick lumber producers and the local communities who rely on this important sector. We have consulted with local industry and have developed a set of measures to manage the unfair pressure on the industry while working towards a positive resolution.”

The provincial government will:

  • work to improve and develop strategic corridors to improve transportation efficiency for industries, including the forest industry.
  • work to enhance innovation in the forestry industry through increased research, expanding opportunities like biomass and biofuels, and by promoting the markets that exist for value-added wood products from New Brunswick, consistent with New Brunswick’s obligations under international trade agreements.
  • work to protect the forest sector by increasing its efforts to monitor and combat the threat of spruce budworm through continued partnerships with industry and the federal government.
  • work with industry to find new export markets and reduce reliance upon trade with the United States.
  • engage an expert firm to conduct a review of the New Brunswick forestry market and, if warranted, make appropriate recommendations to address matters relative to New Brunswick that are currently the subject of the softwood lumber trade dispute.

Officials from the Department of Energy and Resource Development have informed the Office of the Auditor General of the determination by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The department has also informed the Office of the Auditor General of its intention to hire an expert firm to conduct a review of the forestry market.

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

David Wilkins, a former United States ambassador to Canada from 2005 to 2009, was named New Brunswick’s special envoy on trade and softwood lumber in May and has been working to advance New Brunswick’s interests in Washington.

Melanson was in Boston in April, discussing the matter with officials of the Massachusetts state government, and did the same during an advocacy mission to Augusta, Maine, earlier that month. Deputy premier Stephen Horsman was in China as part of an economic and advocacy initiative this spring, promoting New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry to help businesses diversify. A followup mission to China is planned for 2018.