The Commerce Department had previously been scheduled to
announce final lumber duties on Sept. 6, a step that would have
ended the current negotiating process with Canada's government.
Ross set a new deadline of no later than Nov. 14.
"I remain hopeful that we can reach a negotiated solution that
satisfies the concerns of all parties," Ross said. "This
extension could provide the time needed to address the complex
issues at hand and to reach an equitable and durable suspension
U.S. and Canadian softwood lumber producers and government
officials have all said they want to reach an "equitable"
arrangement to settle U.S. claims that Canadian lumber is
unfairly subsidized and dumped onto U.S. markets below cost.
But both sides say they are unwilling to settle for a "bad
deal," pushing the talks past the start of negotiations to
modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. As long as
the Commerce Department is negotiating on behalf of the United
States, the lumber talks can continue on a separate track to the
NAFTA talks, which are being handled by the U.S. Trade
The decades-old dispute centers on the fees paid by Canadian
lumber mills for timber cut largely from government-owned land.
They are lower than fees paid on U.S. timber, which comes
largely from private land. The Canadian government argues that
its fees are fair and is prepared to litigate the matter if a
settlement cannot be reached.
U.S. lumber producers want a "clean quota" system that limits
Canadian mills to a specific share of the U.S. market.
Canada's ambassador to the United States and envoys from major
lumber-producing provinces said last week in a joint statement
that the coming weeks "will be critical to determine whether we
have a partner in the United States prepared to advance our
The U.S. Commerce Department is collecting preliminary duties of
17 percent to 31 percent on Canadian softwood lumber.
(Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Grant McCool and Cynthia
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