Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s highly touted debut trip to Washington to meet with President Barrack Obama resulted in a spate of announcements outlined in a joint statement covering a wide range of challenging bilateral, multilateral and global issues.
Arising out of the meeting it was also learned that top U.S. and Canadian trade officials will be involved in negotiating a new long-term softwood lumber agreement aimed at heading off an emerging dispute following expiration last fall of the 2006 agreement restricting Canadian lumber exports. Softwood lumber has long been a source of trade friction between the two countries, with American producers accusing their Canadian counterparts of selling in the U.S. at unfairly low and subsidized prices.
Accordingly, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland have been tasked to “intensively explore all options and report back within 100 days on the key features that would address this issue.”
“This issue of softwood lumber will get resolved in some fashion,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Trudeau in the White House rose garden yesterday. “We have some very smart people, and they’ll find a way to resolve it, undoubtedly to the dissatisfaction of all parties concerned because that’s the nature of these kinds of things.” He added that each side would likely get about 60% of "what we need, and people will complain and grumble, but it will be fine.”
Additionally, the White House released a “fact sheet” outlining various aspects of the two countries’ co-operative efforts regarding various matters, including the following trade-related initiatives:
Border and Law Enforcement Cooperation
The United States and Canada work together to address threats at the border as well as throughout the two countries, while expediting lawful cross-border trade and travel. Both countries have taken important steps to ensure the security of our nations, prevent criminal and terrorist actors from exploiting legitimate trade and travel, and expand North American perimeter security. We have jointly developed protocols to exchange information on those who present a clear threat, including exchanging our respective “No-Fly” lists, with appropriate protections for the handling and dissemination of such information and processes to correct inaccurate information. Additionally, the Government of Canada has assured the United States it will complete the last phase of a coordinated entry and exit information system so the record of land and air entries into one country establishes an exit record from the other.
The United States conducts preclearance operations at eight airports in Canada, more than in any other country. Canada is the only country in the world with which the United States has signed a new Preclearance agreement that covers all modes of transportation across our shared border. We are pleased the Trudeau government has reinforced its support for the Agreement and committed to passing the legislation necessary to implement it. In addition, we have agreed in principle to expand preclearance to the following sites: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Montréal Rail, and Rocky Mountaineer. Such expansion is contingent upon each site meeting all terms and conditions of the Agreement, including recovery of costs for the deployment of CBP officers at new preclearance locations in Canada.
The United States and Canada recognize the importance of regulatory cooperation to promote economic growth and benefits to our consumers and businesses. The U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council will: 1) generate and implement new regulatory cooperation initiatives; 2) engage business and consumer expert groups to identify where and how regulatory cooperation could provide benefits to improve the health and safety of our citizens; and 3) help agencies and departments to put in place ambitious commitments and work plans by early this summer.
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