Canadian Forest Service Publications

An examination of why a long-term resolution to the Canada-US softwood lumber dispute eludes policy makers. 1998. Cashore, B. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Working Paper WP-98.02. 45 p.

Year: 1998

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 5247

Language: English

Series: Working Paper WP (PFC - Victoria)

Availability: PDF (download)

Mark record


For the last 15 years Canada and the United States have been engaged in a dispute concerning billions of dollars of Canadian softwood lumber exports to the US market. As the largest and longest-lasting trade conflict between the two countries, the dispute has consumed vast amounts of time and money by industry and government officials on both sides of the border. It has also attracted the attention of an array of legal, economic, and political science scholars. Despite this expenditure of human, financial, and intellectual capital, a long-term resolution has eluded policy makers. Even the latest truce signed in April 1996 has a maximum life of only five years, after which time discord is certain to continue. This essay explores the causes of the dispute, accounts for its longevity, and examines options for a long-term solution. To accomplish these tasks, two factors must be given more attention than the literature has afforded them to date: the reciprocal and paradoxical relationship between the evolution of US liberal trade policy and the increased use of administered protection through US “fair trade” laws; and the influence of environmental forest policy and politics in Canada and the US.