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Trump team defends latest trade dispute with Canada

26 April 2017

US President Donald Trump held talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid deteriorating relationship between the neighbour countries over lumber and dairy trade issues.

Trump tweeted about the issue on Tuesday saying, "Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very hard".

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with Alberta's forest workers, their families and communities that rely on a strong forest industry", Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier said in a statement. "Watch!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

"We have massive trade deficits", Trump said.

According to a CNN Money report, USA lumber companies say Canadian firms receive unfair subsidies from their government, allowing the firms to sell their lumber in the U.S.at prices that American firms can't afford. The group urged Trump to "take immediate action".

Canada has changed its pricing structure which will enable its dairy industry to provide the ultra-filtered milk needed in cheese production.

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Up to now, Trump's harshest criticisms of NAFTA have focused on Mexico, but in the past few days the president has shifted his sights to accuse Canada of harming USA farmers and milk producers.

"And then that lets them charge a subsidized low price when the product hits the USA border", Ross said.

The conversation comes a day after the US Department of Commerce determined the need to impose countervailing duties of roughly $1 billion on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the US.

The Canadian government is offering more detailed description of the call. "It's been frustrating to the timber industry for years to see full rail cars heading south from Canada", said Scott Dane, executive director of the Gilbert-based Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota.

The Trump administration announced Monday plans to impose duties of up to 24% on most Canadian lumber, charging that lumber companies there are subsidized by the government. "The (Canadian) provinces subsidise the cutting down of lumber - the technical term being stumpage - and then that lets them charge a subsidised low price when the product hits the USA border".

Producers north of the border reacted furiously to the ruling.

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Those costs are also on the mind of British Columbians.

While Carr said he was confident the two countries could come to an agreement on softwood lumber, he said Ottawa would make a "renewed effort" to expand exports to other markets, particularly China, with aggressive marketing.

The National Association of Homebuilders said the duties averaging 20 percent announced by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday affecting some $5.66 billion worth of imports of the construction material were not the solution to the U.S.

The White House says President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had "a very amicable call" Tuesday evening, hours after Trump claimed Canada had "outsmarted" the US for a long time but his administration is "not going to put up with it".

"We remain confident that a negotiated settlement is not only possible but in the best interests of both countries".

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