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U.S. officials may even playing field with Canada on lumber agreement

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
March 2, 2001
If Canada does not renew the Softwood Lumber Agreement with the United States, look for the secretary of commerce to step forward with high tariffs to even the playing field.
Congressman Chip Pickering said he expects U.S. officials to continue negotiations with Canada on the agreement, which expires at the end of March. Foreign timber, especially from Canada, has been blamed for the slump in the U.S. timber industry.
Canada wants free trade in lumber and rejects the U.S. assertion that it subsidizes the Canadian forest products industry. Pickering said if it can be proven they do, the tariff can be imposed.
Pickering said it would be better if Canada would sign the agreement.
In another matter, Pickering said federal economic assistance to Mississippi's poultry industry may be coming by the end of the year. Pickering has introduced a supplemental appropriation bill for the chicken growers who have been hurt by the high natural gas prices in recent months. It will be considered by Congress this spring, and if passed, could become available by the end of the year.
Steve Swogetinsky is the regional editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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