The latest round of negotiations on a US proposal aimed at ending the North American softwood lumber dispute are to start before the end of the month.

The positive development follows a meeting of about 35 Canadian lumber executives with US officials in Washington. Negotiations on US commerce department secretary Grant Aldonas’ plan will now start on January 29.

His proposal offers Canadian lumber companies a reprieve from punishing countervailing duties on their softwood exports to the US in return for the introduction of a more market-based system in its forest industry.

Alberta and Ontario have expressed disappointment with Aldonas’ proposal but are continuing to take parts in talks. British Columbia has been positive in wanting to reach a settlement.