FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant and Maine Governor Paul LePage are travelling to Washington this week to meet with United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. about trade.

“Trade and softwood lumber will be among the topics that Governor LePage and I raise with Secretary Ross,” said Gallant. “New Brunswick is Canada’s most trade-driven province and the United States continues to be our province’s biggest trading partner. This economic relationship is important to New Brunswickers.”

In November, the provincial government announced measures to combat what it considers to be unfair trade actions undertaken by the United States government against New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry. These measures include:

  • working to improve and develop strategic corridors to improve transportation efficiency for industries, including the forest industry.
  • working 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.
  • working 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.
  • working with industry to find new export markets and reduce reliance upon trade with the United States.
  • engaging 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.

“New Brunswick’s and Maine’s integration of softwood lumber is a great example as to how the tariffs imposed on New Brunswick softwood lumber will hurt the American economy,” said Gallant. “Governor LePage has been a strong supporter of exempting New Brunswick’s softwood lumber and will be helpful.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is also expected to be on the agenda for this week’s meeting.

“NAFTA supports millions of jobs in Canada and the United States,” said Gallant. “We will certainly remind Secretary Ross of NAFTA’s importance to the economy in the United States.”

Gallant said NAFTA has had a positive effect on the Canadian economy and plays an important role in New Brunswick’s healthy and positive trading relationship with the United States. The provincial government has been working with the federal government, providing information on how NAFTA affects New Brunswickers and their interests.

The latest round of negotiations involving Canada, Mexico and the United States concluded in Montreal at the end of January. The seventh round of negotiations is scheduled to begin in Mexico on Feb. 26.

This is Gallant’s third meeting with Ross in the past year.