1st Edition

The Softwood Lumber War Politics, Economics, and the Long U.S.-Canadian Trade Dispute

By Daowei Zhang Copyright 2007
    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    320 Pages
    by Routledge

    As a forester interested in economics and policy, Daowei Zhang followed the softwood lumber dispute between the U.S. and Canada for nearly 20 years. Dubbed the 'Softwood Lumber War,' the conflict enveloped politicians and business leaders on both sides of the border and placed strains on the historically close economic and political relations between the two countries. This book is an unprecedentedly detailed evaluation of how the conflict began and how it was sustained for such a long period of time. The book considers the implications that may follow from the 2006 agreement between the nations, and the broader lessons that might be learned about international trade conflicts. The early 1980s was a difficult time for U.S. lumber producers. Finding their domestic market share in decline, they requested restrictions on Canadian lumber imports. Alleging that the Canadian producers were being subsidized, they eventually secured a 15 percent export tax on Canadian lumber in 1986. A long series of trade battles followed against a background of shortages in the U.S. timber supply, changing international markets, and the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. Canada and the United States are the world's largest trading partners, but, as Zhang demonstrates, it is a relationship in which domestic pressure groups, different institutional structures within each government, and differences in the relative economic power of each country remain extremely important determinants of foreign policy. The fact that the softwood lumber dispute has taken so long to resolve-and the prospect that the 2006 agreement has the potential to be undone by continuing litigation and trade friction-raise important questions about international relations in a world that is supposedly moving toward free trade.

    Figures and Tables List of Abbreviations Foreword Preface 1. A War between Friends 2. Theory of Economic Policy Formation 3. Lumber I: The First Shot, 1982-1983 4. Lumber II: A New Coalition and the Memorandum of Understanding, 1984-1986 5. The Free Trade Agreement and Termination of the MOU, 1987-1991 6. Lumber III: The War Intensifies, 1991-1994 7. A Temporary Truce: The Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 8. Lumber IV: The Battle through Litigation, 2001-2006 9. Lumber IV: The Negotiation Track, 2001-2006 10. Comparative Political Economy: The Softwood Lumber War and the Newsprint Tariff Battle 11. An End to the War? Lessons Learned and the Prospects for the 2006 Agreement References Index About the Author


    Daowei Zhang is professor of forest economics and policy in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University.

    'This book will become the authoritative work. It brings the complicated and intense political, legal, historical, and economic issues into an easily understandable context. One has to appreciate the courage of the author to tackle such a highly controversial, contentious, and explosive subject.' - Stephen Devadoss, University of Idaho

    'Although there is a temporary resolution, the disagreements between American and Canadian producers and consumers are likely to resurface. This book provides insights into the dispute that might help lead the various interests to a more permanent peace.' - Ross W. Gorte, Congressional Research Service

    'Zhang cuts through the bombast on both sides and gets to the heart of the dispute. This meticulously researched analysis should be required reading for every Canadian and U.S. politician. Despite the 2006 agreement, the war is far from over.' - Don Whiteley, The Vancouver Sun