A US timber industry lobby group has welcomed the government’s decision to take action against Canada under the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA).

The US government has started arbitration proceedings to address timber pricing practices in British Columbia (BC)

The BC government stands accused of selling local lumber producers large amounts of low-cost wood which was improperly classified as “reject wood” but then used to manufacture timber products and shipped to the US.

“The enormous increase in the amount of timber at the C$0.25/m³ minimum price has saved BC interior lumber producers hundreds of millions of dollars in fibre costs, compared to what they would have paid under the timber pricing system that was in place when the US-Canada SLA was signed,” said Steve Swanson, chairman of the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports.

Mr Swanson said the BC government’s action, which he called an unfair subsidy, has had devastating effects on the lumber industry outside BC, both in the US and elsewhere in Canada.

Disputes under the SLA are resolved through a binding process before the London Court of International Arbitration involving commercial arbitrators who are neither citizens nor residents of either country.