USTR - Transcript of Remarks by USTR Portman, Minister Emerson and Minister Bernier at the Softwood Lumber Agreement Announcement
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

Transcript of Remarks by USTR Portman, Minister Emerson and Minister Bernier at the Softwood Lumber Agreement Announcement
04/27/2006

Moderator: Delighted to have here today members of the United States Trade Representative’s offices, several officials of the United States government and Ministers Emerson and Bernier from Canada. I’ll do a quick introduction from left to right and we will start with brief statements from Ambassador Portman, Minister Emerson and Minister Bernier. On va commencer avec une courte déclaration d’ambassadeur Portman, ministre Emerson et ministre Bernier. After that we will take two questions — two from Canadian media and two from U.S. media.

On my far left Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. Beside her Ambassador Michael Wilson. Ambassador Michael Wilson. Ambassador Robert Portman in the middle. Beside him Minister David Emerson, Minister of Industry ---

Unidentified Male Speaker: Trade.

Moderator: Oh, Minister of International Trade, my apologies. And Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry. Ambassador Portman.

Amb. Rob Portman: Bernie, thank you very much. This is a good day. I’m very pleased to be here with my friend and colleague, Trade Minister David Emerson, and also with Industry Minister Maxime Bernier to announce an agreement on softwood lumber between the United States and Canada. This agreement is an historic opportunity to resolve a longstanding dispute and end litigation that spans more than two decades. After multiple lawsuits without resolution, we are now close to achieving what many thought would never happen.

There are still a few details to be finalized but we’ve worked hard to shape a smart solution that depends on market forces and it will add predictability and certainty for both producers and consumers of softwood lumber products.

Under the agreement, the United States will revoke the duties we’ve been imposing on Canadian softwood lumber and Canada will put in place certain export restrictions when the market is in a downturn. Interestingly, at today’s market prices there would be no such restrictions.

A substantial majority of the roughly $5 billion that has been collected in recent years will be returned to Canadian exporters. Of the remainder of those funds — about $1 billion U.S. — roughly $500 million would be distributed to members of the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a U.S. industry group. The remainder will be used for meritorious causes to be determined and to develop the North American lumber markets.

This wasn’t an easy task as others who have tried before can certainly attest. I first want to thank our two leaders, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was their strong determination that armed these negotiations with the political will that was essential to deliver a solid final result.

I also want to recognize the heroic efforts and fresh thinking brought to this by our Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and by the Canadian Ambassador to the United States Michael Wilson to my left. These two accomplished negotiators did a terrific job as did their very effective teams including U.S. Trade Representative’s general counsel Jim Mendenhall and our trade colleagues from the Department of Commerce. They are all to be congratulated for a job well done.

Despite the focus on this one issue, as I have said many times in the context of our discussions on this matter, I think it’s important that we look at the big picture and that we underscore that the United States and Canada have an excellent trading relationship. Not only is Canada a reliable friend to the United States, we are each other’s largest trading partner and it is worth noting that softwood lumber accounts for about three percent of Canadian exports meaning more than 97 percent of our overall trade of over a half trillion dollars a year is largely dispute-free.

I’m very proud of our team. It sends a strong signal of deeper cooperation between two friends. With the full participation of the provinces, Canada and the United States will now develop a process for discussions on policy reforms that could lead to provinces exiting the border measures.

Again, this is a good day for our industries. It’s a good day for the strong relationship between the United States and our northern neighbour, Canada.

Moderator: Thank you, Ambassador. Minister Emerson.

Hon. David Emerson: Well, thank you very much. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been involved in this file for something like eight years. I was involved in the largest softwood lumber producer in Canada before I got into government and more recently in government so this is a file the intractability of which I know exceedingly well firsthand. And so it’s a watershed moment for me to be here to announce that we finally have what I think is a very substantial and lasting resolution to this dispute and I, like Ambassador Portman, I want to say congratulations and thanks to a few people.

I think first, as Ambassador Portman indicated, the prime minister has shown just incredible resolve and strength on this issue and I think it’s a real tribute to him on the Canadian side and President Bush on the U.S. side for showing the leadership on this issue. Clearly a lot of the heavy lifting on this file was done by Ambassador Wilson and Claude Carriere in the embassy, Maxime Bernier, my colleague on the right. But also I want to say congratulations to Ambassador Portman who is, as you know, the outgoing U.S. Trade Representative because in my short time working with you, Ambassador, we have really begun to develop a much more collaborative relationship and I’m really looking forward to carrying that one with Ambassador Schwab who has, again, done a lot of the heavy lifting on this file. So let me just go on the record as saying that. So thank you to all of those people.

The agreement, as the ambassador has indicated, really does establish a fair, certain and long-term resolution to the softwood lumber dispute. It will not only see the revoking of duties but also the return to Canadian lumber producers of at least $4 billion U.S. of collected duties. This agreement is the result of the greatest show of determination and trade diplomacy in my view that North America has seen since the negotiation of the NAFTA agreement itself. We’ve accomplished more in 80 days than any Canadian government has accomplished in the past decade.

I can also say that from the very outset and I know this firsthand from seeing the effects of this dispute on communities and families but from the outset the government has been committed to the best interests of Canada, of our provinces, the industry, forest workers, and the families of forest workers and the communities whose livelihoods have depended and continue to depend on the forest sector. I think we have given our industry, our companies and especially Canadian families a more secure and brighter future because of this agreement.

For the next seven to nine years when lumber prices are at current levels, no border measure will be imposed. In other words, we will have free trade at long last and of course when prices are lower a province can use the export measure that works best for its particular industry.

This agreement will pave the way for a stronger bilateral relationship — a relationship upon which so many Canadians depend for jobs and prosperity. Furthermore, it will set a positive tone as our countries move forward in collaborating to make North America more competitive on a global scale. I think we can get back to re-energizing NAFTA, re-energizing the economic relationship and re-energizing the friendship that has too often been affected unnecessarily and negatively by this simmering dispute. Thank you.

Moderator: Minister Bernier.

L’hon. Maxime Bernier: Merci. Bonjour. Bonsoir. Je suis heureux de confirmer que nous avons conclu une entente avec les États-Unis qui met fin au conflit du bois d’oeuvre. Cette entente se traduit véritablement par une solution juste et durable. Cette entente ne fait pas que mettre un terme à la perception de droits compensatoires aux producteurs canadiens mais elle prévoit aussi le remboursement — oui, le remboursement — de plus de quatre milliards de dollars américains en droits versés à ce jour.

Comme le disait mon collègue, monsieur Emerson, ce règlement est la démonstration d’un des plus grands leaderships dans la diplomatie commerciale que l’Amérique du Nord ait connue depuis la négociation du traité de libre échange nord-américain. Et nous avons accompli en 80 jours sous le leadership de monsieur Harper ce qu’aucun gouvernement canadien n’a accompli dans la dernière décennie. Notre gouvernement a agi dans le meilleur intérêt du Canada, des provinces, de l’industrie forestière et surtout des travailleurs de l’industrie forestière qui vivent et dépendent de la vitalité de cette industrie.

En vertu de cette entente, comme vous le savez, nous sommes en mesure d’assurer à notre industrie, à nos entreprises et à nos collectivités un avenir des plus prospères. Pour les prochains sept à neuf ans dans le contexte du marché actuel nous pouvons assurer à notre industrie le rétablissement d’un marché libre, sans droits et sans quotas, d’un vrai libre échange.

Cette entente pave la voie à une plus forte relation bilatérale entre nos deux pays, une relation prospère sur lesquels les Canadiens pourront compter. Enfin, cette entente établit un ton positif, un nouveau départ pendant que nous deux pays vont de l’avant en collaborant pour faire de l’Amérique du Nord un marché des plus compétitifs à l’échelle internationale. Merci.

Modérateur: Merci, monsieur Bernier. We will take two questions per side and we’ll start with you. Please identify yourself when you ask.

Question: (Inaudible) from Bloomberg. Minister Emerson, do you have the support of the three provinces for this deal and is that concrete or are you still working that through?

Hon. David Emerson: No, we have the support of the three provinces. The three premiers from British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have been in communication with the prime minister and I believe they either have or very soon will come out and support the framework agreement we have in place here and that’s very important to us because this has been a long, extremely complex, collaborative process involving many consultations with industry and with government and it’s always been in the past very difficult for Canada to come together in the unified way that I think we are with this agreement.

Moderator: Okay. Over to Tom Clark.

Question: Thank you very much. In the minds of many, you know, this dispute has been an example of the failure of NAFTA. It seems that the solution to this was not because of NAFTA but in spite of it — $5 billion held hostage by the Americans until a deal was done. What in the end does this say about the effectiveness of NAFTA going forward?

Hon. David Emerson: Well, my own feeling is NAFTA we all know is an imperfect trade agreement. All trade agreements are imperfect in one way or another but this is I think a signal that NAFTA can work and it puts a dispute to rest that has really made it difficult to get on with the kind of collaboration and improvements that we need to do amongst the NAFTA partners so I think that this very much moves NAFTA along in a positive direction.

Moderator: Over there.

Question: (Inaudible) with Reuters News Agency for Ambassador Portman. Does this mean the United States will drop its extraordinary challenge to the NAFTA panel?

Amb. Rob Portman: Let me answer that question but first if I could follow on to Minister Emerson’s response to the previous question, one of the difficulties that I mentioned in the brief statement with this matter has been the number and different strands of litigation. There are over 20 different litigations going on. Some are through the NAFTA dispute settlement procedure and some are through U.S. courts. Some are through the WTO dispute settlement procedures. And there have been different results in different of these strands as you know and that’s been one of the complications. And one of the things that Minister Emerson and I had talked about is strengthening NAFTA in a number of ways and one is of course being sure that where you have different results coming from different fora, legal fora, that we have a way to resolve them. So it’s not -- one of the complications, frankly, of this matter is that there was so much litigation going on in so many different fora that it was sometimes unclear what the answers was to a particular ITC determination, International Trade Commission determination or other matter.

With regard to the ECC, in order to preserve our legal rights, the United States did today file an Extraordinary Challenge Committee which is an appeal of a recent NAFTA decision but we did so in agreement with the Canadians. We agreed to suspend the ECC as soon as we filed. So it’s really a legal technicality in the sense of preserving the right. Furthermore, we have made a commitment that we are willing to return any and all money collected during the pending ECC term if this agreement is ultimately successful which we believe it will be or if we lose the ECC. The ECC would of course terminate once the agreement is finalized. So I wanted to make that clear that this is in order to preserve our legal rights but that we have committed with the Canadians to suspend.

Amb. Michael Wilson: Can I just add one comment to that? Both Canada and the United States have discussed this particular issue. We had advised the Americans that if this deal is not successful, if we can’t conclude it based on the terms of the agreement that we have in front of us, then we reserve our right to pursue the support measures for the industry that the government has indicated in the past. So in both cases it’s just a hopefully routine thing to keep our options open as we go through the final stages of this process.

Modérateur: En français.

Question: (Inaudible) en anglais par rapport à la poursuite, les litiges ou des poursuites (inaudible) dans le dossier du bois d’oeuvre. Et aussi qu’on parle d’un ton positif, d’un nouveau départ. Est-ce qu’on parle au-delà aussi de cette (inaudible) pour deux dossiers les plus durs entre les États-Unis et le Canada. On pense par rapport à la question des passeports.

L’hon. Maxime Bernier: Bien la première partie de votre question, en ce qui concerne l’arrêt des procédures judiciaires par les Américains ce qui a été fait c’est que le gouvernement américain a décidé de quand même de poursuivre des procédures judiciaires. C’est quelque chose de technique pour pas perdre leurs droits et lorsque en temps et lieu ces procédures-là vont tomber. Donc la deuxième partie de votre question était sur ---

Question: (Inaudible) nouveau départ, vous dites que (inaudible) le leadership des deux leaders (inaudible) ce dossier-là (inaudible) pour le restant.

L’hon. Maxime Bernier: Oui. Bien depuis notre élection, depuis l’élection du nouveau gouvernement le 23 janvier dernier c’est un nouveau leadership que nous avons au Canada et c’est des relations commerciales entre le Canada et les États-Unis qui sont basées sur des nouvelles relations et ça démontre que lorsqu’on travaille avec les Américains dans le respect nous pouvons voir arriver des solutions qui sont justes et équitables et qui sont bonnes pour tous les Canadiens et les Québécois.

Question: (Inaudible) d’autres dossiers, par exemple la question des passeports.

L’hon. Maxime Bernier: Mais chaque dossier est un cas d’espèce. Aujourd’hui on parle du bois d’oeuvre et une autre fois on parlera d’un autre dossier. Merci.

Moderator: Everyone, tout le monde, we will have a chance to pose some further questions to Minister Bernier and Minister Emerson and Ambassador Wilson and spend some time on that. There’s -- I think we’ve reached our two questions.

Amb. Michael Wilson: Just before and Tim Mendenhall of USTR who is -- he’ll be also available for questions.

Question: One more for Ambassador Portman before he leaves if possible. Ambassador, what exactly changed? We’ve heard a lot that the administration was eager to give the Harper government a win. Did this come right from the top?

Amb. Rob Portman: Well, as I said in my statement, I give credit where credit is due which is to the political will that we negotiators, particularly Ambassador Schwab, Ambassador Wilson were given from the top. President Bush, Prime Minister Harper made it very clear in Cancun that they wanted to solve this problem. I think they gave us the wind at our back that we needed to be able to close the remaining differences and come up with an agreement that was beneficial to the industry in Canada and beneficial to our industry and provide stability for the market. And frankly I don’t think it would have happened without their leadership. I don’t know if anybody gave anything to anybody else but I will say that both Prime Minister Harper and President Bush are eager to be sure that we have a constructive and positive relationship. As I said in my comments, we have a very strong trade relationship and since I have been in the position to deal with nearly 200 countries around the world for the last year in this job I will tell you it’s one of our best and strongest trade relationships, that, as I said earlier, it’s 97 percent, even more when you include all of our trade, largely dispute-free entirely. And this was an irritant in what otherwise is a very strong relationship with a strong ally so I think the political will was critical to getting us to this stage.

Moderator: Okay. Thank you, everybody. This concludes the first part of this media availability. Give us a couple minutes, we will continue with the next part of it. Thank you.

So we will start with four questions from this room and then we’ll take four questions from the press gallery in Ottawa and others who are on the line. Operator, can you hear me?

Operator: Yes, I can hear you.

Moderator: Okay. Thank you. We will start with Barry McKenna, Globe and Mail.

Question: Mr. Emerson, you said that (inaudible) NAFTA was moving forward. Three things here. Do you agree with the (inaudible) that manage the trade that the NAFTA dispute settlement system doesn’t really work and that the Byrd Amendment had some merit because $500 million is going from the duties, the coffers of the duties right into the hands of the industry. That was the Byrd Amendment. Those were the three things that Canada fought tooth and nail for for years and what happened to that?

Hon. David Emerson: Well, I believe that the dispute settlement mechanisms of NAFTA are actually very valuable which is why after fighting through litigation the cases that we’ve had underway — as Ambassador Portman said there’s been something like 20 or more cases under NAFTA dispute resolution — we finally did get to a position where Canada was able to establish a very positive solution to this long-simmering dispute. So I think the dispute resolution mechanism does work. It is clear that when you look at this dispute you’re looking at what I think is an arrangement and a framework that will create significant stability going forward and certainly when you look at the alternative of continuing to litigate and the uncertainties and the long time frames associated with litigation this really does bring stability to the forest industry and gives forest-dependent communities a real basis on which to build a future.

Moderator: Michael Bolton.

Question: Minister Emerson (inaudible) the Government of Canada has agreed to leave more than a billion dollars on the table here in the hands in part of the U.S. producers and U.S. government. Why did it agree to that? What principles lay behind that decision? And what, if anything, does Canada get for all that money?

Hon. David Emerson: Well, I’ll let Ambassador Wilson answer parts of that but I will say this that there is at least four billion U.S., roughly five billion Canadian is coming back to producers. Of the remaining roughly a billion dollars, half of that will be used for projects and activities related to the development of the North American forest industry and possibly some charitable works and undertakings related to the use of lumber such as reconstruction post-Katrina. So I don’t think you should view all of that billion dollars as money that’s simply gone to the winds. It’s being put to good charitable works and good developmental works for the North American industry. I fundamentally believe that the industries in Canada and the United States, if they can work together on developing markets for wood in competition with plastic, steel, cement and developing third country markets that will bring the industry together in a way which I think will reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of this kind of a dispute seven or nine years out.

Question: Well, I mean wherever the money goes I mean that decision presumably would be made by U.S. producers or the U.S. government here and Canadians -- that was Canadian money and Canadians are not involved. I mean did you ask Canadians if they want to contribute, make a charitable contribution to reconstruction related to Hurricane Katrina? It just seems to be a giveaway of a billion bucks. I ask what principles lay behind the decision to allow that to happen?

Amb. Michael Wilson: Maybe I could add a comment on that since I was right in the middle of the discussions. A negotiation is a negotiation. Am I a hundred percent in favour of everything that is in this agreement? No. But the important objectives that we set out in advance to resolve this issue and the various elements in terms of providing a set of stable rules, in terms of giving flexibility to people in the industry to develop markets the way they felt is appropriate for their businesses and other benefits. So in order to achieve those benefits there has to be sometimes a balance and a balance that maybe you don’t want to give up but that’s part of the solution, the resolution to an agreement in an industry dispute which has gone on for many, many years and where there have been many attempts to bring together the elements of the industry in Canada and at the same time bring them together in a way that is going to produce an agreement with the United States. It’s a very complex set of issues so there are going to be some parts of it that maybe you wouldn’t want to do. But in order to get the overall objective achieved, you put some things that have to be there to achieve that.

Hon. David Emerson: I just want to add one more comment. The fundamental principle of course that Ambassador Wilson has applied and we’ve been driven by is what is the best economic interest of Canada and it’s difficult for me to argue that a continuation for a number of years of expensive and uncertain litigation with all of the corollary risks and costs that that has is in Canada’s economic interest. And I think that what we have done is establish a compromise that everyone has made compromises that is in Canada’s fundamental economic interest.

Question: Monsieur Bernier, on parle ici d’un moment historique, (inaudible) pas en avant mais il y a quand même beaucoup de mécontents. Qu’est-ce que vous leur répondez?

L’hon. Maxime Bernier: Bien nous ce qu’on leur dit c’est que regardez le gouvernement de la Colombie-Britannique, le gouvernement du Québec, le gouvernement de l’Ontario, la plupart des producteurs de l’industrie forestière au Canada et la grande -- je dirais la très grande majorité des producteurs québécois sont derrière cette entente-là. Donc c’est une entente qui permet aux producteurs de récupérer quatre milliards de dollars au minimum et d’avoir accès à un marché libre et sans quotas, un vrai libre échange. Donc je crois que c’est une entente qui est dans l’intérêt des Canadiens, dans l’intérêt des travailleurs de l’industrie forestière, les communautés qui dépendent de cette industrie forestière là et c’est pourquoi nous sommes heureux aujourd’hui d’annoncer cette entente-là à la population canadienne.

Moderator: Okay, last question from the room. We’ll take it, you in the back.

Question: Have all the issues outstanding been resolved by the agreement that was reached today (inaudible) talks continue on some issues and if so, what? What issues still need to be resolved? And what needs to happen for this to take effect in both countries?

Amb. Michael Wilson: All the issues that have been on the table have been resolved. It’s a heads of agreement. We have a term sheet that we have agreed upon. It’s a clean term sheet. There’s no outstanding issues on that. Now we have to, as the lawyers say, paper the agreement. We have to translate those heads of agreement into a specific agreement that would govern the trade in softwood lumber for the seven-year period. I would imagine that it’ll take two to three months for that part of the process to be achieved.

Question: (Inaudible) go into effect (inaudible) by Congress or Parliament or what happens?

Moderator: There will be a technical briefing following the news conference.

Question: Oh, I thought this was a technical briefing.

Moderator: Okay, I’ll take four questions now from ---

Question: (Inaudible) answer to that (inaudible).

Amb. Michael Wilson: Well, to the extent that we know now there may be some elements that will require some legislation on the Canadian part. I can’t answer the question as far as the United States. But for the most part it doesn’t require legislation, in the large part.

Moderator: Operator, we’ll take four questions from the phones.

Operator: This is the conference operator. At this time I’d like to remind all media that you may ask a question or make a comment by pressing star followed by the number 1 on your telephone keypad. Ici l’opérateur. J’aimerais vous rappeler que vous pouvez poser une question ou faire un commentaire en composant l’étoile suivie du 1 de votre clavier téléphonique. Your first question comes from Peter Morton of the Financial Post.

Question: This is for Mr. Wilson. I recall of course that you were the Minister of Trade when you essentially tore up the MOU, the 1986 one in 1990. So what essentially came to the landscape from that deal to now?

Amb. Michael Wilson: Well, first of all, Peter, I wasn’t trade minister at that time. I didn’t tear up the deal. That was I believe my good friend John Crosbie. (Laughter.)

Question: Oh, I stand corrected.

Amb. Michael Wilson: He’s a far more -- I know I’d better not use the adjective. (Laughter.)

Question: At the end of the day though ---

Amb. Michael Wilson: I can’t answer that question with specifics, Peter. That’s a long time ago. My recollection though was that the agreement wasn’t working, that it was felt that we were better off moving on from that particular agreement. We recognized at the time that we could get back to the table, we could be back to the table at some stage but the existing agreement had outlived its usefulness so time had come to move on. In this particular agreement we’ve got opportunity for stability for seven years to take us to a point where some of the significant uncertainties in the marketplace will be behind us or will be well advanced in them and hopefully that will help the industry adjust to an environment then which I imagine will be different than it is now.

Question: A quick thing. Where is Alberta in this?

Amb. Michael Wilson: I believe Alberta has supported that, has supported the agreement but I don’t know that for sure.

Question: So three are in and we’re not sure about Alberta at this point.

Amb. Michael Wilson: B.C. and Ontario and Quebec, by far the largest members of the industry, have agreed and have indicated their support.

Question: But obviously Alberta’s not a deal breaker at this point.

Moderator: Operator, next question, please.

Operator: Your next question comes from Terry Milewski of CBC Television.

Question: I have a question for Minister Emerson if I may from Vancouver and that is could you describe the specifics of the arrangement? When does a tax kick in? When do trade barriers kick in? At what price? And we also understand that there is a choice available, there are two ways to go depending on what suits your company. Could you be specific about those terms?

Hon. David Emerson: Yeah, I will, Terry. The export tax would kick in at 355 per thousand board feet on a random length basis. Don’t go and look in the Globe and Mail for that number because it will give you a misleading number. The price today is significantly above that. And then there are steps so at 355 if you choose, as is likely in the case of British Columbia, if you choose to carry on and pay the export tax which then would be retained by the province and respent in the province then there would be another kick-up in the tax between the price of $336.00 and $355.00. That would take it up to -- I’m sorry, that’s the five percent tax and at 315 to 335 it kicks up to 10 percent and under 315 it kicks up to 15 percent. Now if you are a province that wants to operate a little differently there is an option available to you whereby you can agree to restrict your export volumes and pay a smaller export tax so you would, rather than paying the tax at the levels I just enunciated, you would go from a two and a half percent duty to three percent to five percent but you would have a reduced volume that you would be permitted to ship into the market so you pay a little different type of penalty depending on the regional circumstances of the industry.

Question: Would it be fair to describe that as a you get to choose the quota or the tax?

Hon. David Emerson: That’s correct.

Question: But there is no overall market cap as reported or is there?

Hon. David Emerson: No, there is not. In good markets there is no tax or no quota. If you continue to go with what we refer to in the term sheet as option A, again, there is no quota. There is simply an export tax at the bottom of a market.

Question: All right. Thank you.

Moderator: Okay. And we’re running out of time so we’re going to take two more questions quickly, Operator.

Operator: Your next question comes from Graham Fraser of the Toronto Star.

Question: Yes, there’s a question for Mr. Emerson. I’m wondering what has changed in this deal from what was previously on offer during the period that you’ve been handling this file?

Hon. David Emerson: Well, I think I’d like to make categorically clear that there was no deal previously. There were reported deals that were allegedly close three or four or five times over the last five years but there never was a deal to compare it to. However, this does have significant improvement over what was alleged to be a framework that was being talked about before Christmas. Clearly volumes are open in this deal. There is no restriction during good markets. We’ve also incorporated an issue of significant concern to Canadian producers which is the risk of third country producers such as Europe and to some degree Russian wood and other third country product coming into the market at Canada’s expense. There is a mechanism built into this agreement to recognize that that would be unfair and to at least begin to deal with that issue and we have -- those are the significant issues that are different. But, again, this is I think a long-term, stable agreement that I think will give us a real opportunity to return stability to the industry and to the people that depend on them.

Modérateur: Téléphoniste, la dernière question en français, s’il-vous-plaît. Operator, we’ll take the last question in French if we can.

Operator: Your next question comes from Jeff Wright of Random Lengths.

Question: I’m sorry this isn’t in French.

Moderator: Okay. (Laughter.)

Question: But my question is will the duties currently being collected continue for the next two to three months until this is finalized?

Amb. Michael Wilson: Yes, the answer to the question is yes, it will. But if the agreement is signed as we expect it will then those duties will be refunded.

Hon. David Emerson: I think it’s fair to say that the financial institutions that may have relationships with companies will treat much more seriously the deposits that are on deposit going forward so I would expect that companies will find their bankers a little more friendly going forward.

Moderator: All right. Operator, thank you. And thank you, everybody. This concludes the press conference with Ministers Emerson, Bernier and Ambassador Wilson. Thank you.

Hon. David Emerson: Thanks very much.

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