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Fair trade is a jobs issue (Opinion)

August 5, 2016

By: Oregon Live

Oregon jobs are at risk from subsidized Canadian lumber. Unless we can find a solution in the coming months to address Canadian government policies that give Canadian mills a regular supply of logs at below-market rates, thousands of jobs could be lost.

Sen. Ron Wyden has been a champion on fair trade for U.S. mills by pushing for effective solutions to the harmful consequences of unfair trade on American lumber producers, including those here in Oregon. He and 24 other members of the U.S. Senate should be applauded for recently sending a letter to the United States trade representative backing efforts to negotiate an effective agreement with Canada to govern U.S. imports of Canadian softwood lumber.

As the senators made clear, absent such an agreement, it is critical that U.S. trade laws be fully enforced to counteract the effects in the U.S. market of subsidized Canadian softwood lumber.

As an active board member of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, a lumber mill owner and a member of a great community here in Oregon, I know too well what the impact will be if we aren’t able to stanch the massive flow of subsidized lumber from Canada.

The forestry, logging and wood products industry directly employs approximately 32,000 workers here in Oregon, with an estimated payroll income for those workers exceeding $1.6 billion per year. Because Canada refuses to play by the rules, many of those jobs, that income and associated tax revenues are at risk of being eliminated. What’s more, if Oregon’s lumber mills are forced to close, the restaurants, stores and other small businesses that rely on millworkers as customers will also suffer horribly.

As our government negotiates a new lumber settlement with Canada, it needs to ensure that any agreement will be meaningful today and in the coming years. The U.S. lumber industry can compete with Canada or anyone else as long as the playing field is level. If Canada’s lumber producers are going to continue looking to America as their primary export market, we need to ensure that they follow the rules of fair trade, whether by an effective trade agreement or, failing that, by enforcing U.S. trade laws.

By: Oregon Live

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