[JURIST] Canada's House of Commons [official website] on Tuesday voted 172-116 to approve a controversial softwood lumber trade agreement [PDF text] between Canada and the US that would end a two-decades old trade dispute between the two countries by removing punitive tariffs now levied against Canadian timber and refunding 80 percent of collected tariffs, or approximately $4 billion, back to Canadian lumber companies. After Tuesday's vote, observers expect the bill to survive future parliamentary votes. In July, Canada and the US initialed the deal [Canada PM press release] over the objections of Canada's timber industry, which want to be reimbursed for 100 percent of the collected tariffs.
The long-festering [BC government backgrounder] softwood lumber dispute [CBC backgrounder] was revived in 2001 when the US argued that Canada was unfairly subsidizing its lumber industry. In August of this year, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled that US timber tariffs violate international trade laws, reversing April's panel decision favoring the United States [JURIST report], which Canada appealed. The Appellate Body found that the US method of calculating the anti-dumping tariffs, known as zeroing, arrived at artificially high prices because it did not take into account transactions in which Canadian lumber sold at higher prices than US lumber. AFP has more. Canada's Globe and Mail has additional coverage.