N.B. announces efforts to fight for continued Atlantic tariff exemption

The New Brunswick government is calling for an immediate start to negotiations between Canada and the United States to ensure softwood lumber from Atlantic Canada is exempt from countervailing duties.

Provincial governments in the region have warned that the duties could lead to mill closures and lost jobs.

Roger Melanson, New Brunswick's minister responsible for trade policy, says the province will appoint a senior negotiator to represent New Brunswick's interests in Ottawa and Washington on this issue.

Making the announcement at a sawmill in Fredericton, Melanson said the province will lead trade missions to Europe and China this year to try to expand markets for New Brunswick softwood products.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said this week it would subject Canadian lumber imports to tariffs ranging from three to 24 per cent.

The U.S. administration alleges Canada's wood comes mostly from Crown land, with artificially low prices giving Canadian companies an unfair advantage.