The US has set a deadline of March 31 to resolve its protracted softwood lumber war with Canada.

US undersecretary of commerce Grant Aldonas said the two countries needed to reach an agreement before British Columbia’s election campaign begins. Otherwise he fears it could be months before any deal is brokered.

Mr Aldonas is also due to step down from his position at the end of March.

Canada has proposed a new tax on its softwood shipments to the US to replace the current duties which average 21.2%.