Vive Le Canada

Martin rips U.S. softwood stance
Date: Saturday, October 08 2005

Martin rips U.S. softwood stance


NEW YORK -- In a speech to U.S. financial power brokers yesterday, Prime Minister Paul Martin blasted American intransigence in the acrimonious softwood lumber battle as "nonsense" and "a breach of faith."

Sharply criticized at home for not getting tougher with President George W. Bush to solve the decades-long problem, Martin let loose while talking to the Economic Club of New York.

America's refusal to recognize a final ruling in August under the North American Free Trade Agreement that sided with Canada is threatening the integrity of the continental pact and future economic relations, he said.

And while Martin was careful not to link the softwood dispute directly with retaliation on other trade fronts, he made it clear that countries like China provide attractive markets for Canadian goods, including energy.

"Countries must live up to their agreements," Martin told the Wall Street crowd in prepared remarks.

"The duties must be refunded. Free trade must be fair trade.

"In any business relationship, you're going to have differences of opinion, but you establish a mechanism to settle these differences, you accept the verdict, and move on. NAFTA established such a mechanism and ignoring it hurts not just Canadians, but Americans."

The United States has collected some $5 billion Cdn in duties on softwood imports since May 2002. Canada wants the money back and the penalties stopped.

Canadian officials said yesterday there's mounting pressure in the United States to resolve the acrimonious trade war, including a rising clamour from the American housing industry following two devastating hurricanes.

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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