Resolute Forest Products Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Garneau has reaffirmed the company's support of free, unencumbered access for softwood lumber exports from Central Canada (Quebec and Ontario) to the United States. Mr. Garneau has been a leading figure in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between the U.S. and Canada, and draws on over 40 years of experience and leadership in the forest products industry across Canada.
Resolute is Canada's largest forest products company and the largest producer of softwood lumber east of the Rockies. Richard Garneau has consistently challenged the claims by some that the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada produced predictability and stability. "Managed trade increases volatility, creating an unpredictable and unstable trade environment between two of the world's largest trading partners," stated Mr. Garneau.
While Western Canadian softwood lumber producers benefit from China's extraordinary economic development, logistical limitations mean that Asian markets remain out of reach for Central Canadian producers. Additionally, Western Canadian softwood lumber producers' purchase of 39 sawmills in the U.S., with a production capacity of some five billion board feet, afford them an important measure of insulation from future restrictive measures.
"To put this capacity into context, it is over 150 percent of the total existing capacity of Ontario's sawmills. Canadian demand is simply not enough to absorb all the production of Central Canadian sawmills," added Mr. Garneau. "We need to be able to sell freely to the U.S. Indeed, that was the whole point of the Canada – U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA. Just about every industry enjoys free trade, except for softwood lumber."
"The last softwood lumber trade arrangement between Canada and the United States was incredibly destructive, particularly for Central Canada. The previous Government of Canada not only agreed to limiting access, through quotas and taxes, it also paid over $1 billion "in ransom" to the U.S. softwood lumber producers, financed by Canadian workers. The purpose of a deal must not be simply an alternative to litigation. It must be to assure fair and equitable trade," further stressed Mr. Garneau.
Canadians have won every legal fight with the U.S. over softwood lumber. Canada has played by the rules and proven that its industry is not subsidized, and does not cause injury to any U.S. industry. Softwood lumber producers in Quebec and Ontario need and deserve nothing less than free trade.
Canadians have an important and influential ally in the United States consumer; however, they are reticent to fully engage their powerful movement in support of Canada considering Canada's stated intention to once again agree to a managed trade deal.
"If there is to be a deal, it must recall a principled purpose: that the Canadian softwood lumber industry does compete fairly in North America and pays a fair market price for timber, and that our forestry regimes are market-based. The Government of Canada must not negotiate a deal that does not fully recognize Central Canada's right to free trade," said Mr. Garneau. "However, if we are to go down the litigation route, the Canadian industry will need the full backing of the federal government to avoid being forced into a deal brought about by undue financial pressure by the U.S. government's actions at the border."
About Resolute Forest Products
Resolute Forest Products is a global leader in the forest products industry with a diverse range of products, including market pulp, wood products, tissue, newsprint and specialty papers. The company owns or operates over 40 pulp, paper, tissue and wood products facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea, as well as power generation assets in Canada and the United States. Marketing its products in close to 80 countries, Resolute has third-party certified 100% of its managed woodlands to internationally recognized sustainable forest management standards. The shares of Resolute Forest Products trade under the stock symbol RFP on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Resolute has received regional, North American and global recognition for its leadership in corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, as well as for its business practices. Visit resolutefp.com for more information.