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Criterion 7 Indicator 59
Rationale
The Extent to Which the Economic Framework Supports Non-Discriminatory Trade Policies for Forest Products
 
Trade policies such as import and export laws, tariffs, and other regulations can affect the forest products industry, and therefore the sustainable management of forests. Non-discriminatory trade policies for forest products can limit artificial deterrents to sustainability and promote efficiencies among producers by providing equal opportunities in the marketplace.

Evaluation
Over the past several decades, timber processing industries in the United States have supported open trade in manufactured products. This support was reflected in the federal government’s positions in both the Tokyo and Uruguay rounds of GATT negotiations. At the conclusion of the Uruguay Round, the tariffs were zero or near zero for the imports of logs, lumber, plywood, and pulp and paper products into the United States. The terms of the U.S.-Canadian Free Trade Agreement and, later, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), are further evidence for the federal government’s support of non-discriminatory free trade policies.
 
However, there are exceptions, and these include the terms of the Forest Resources Conservation and Shortage Relief Act of 1990, as amended (FRCSRA); the final rule of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on the importation of logs, lumber, and other non-manufactured wood articles (referred to here as the "APHIS restriction"); and the terms of the 1996 softwood lumber agreement between the government of the United States of America and the government of Canada (referred to here as the "softwood lumber agreement").
 
In general, the FRCSRA prohibits the export of unprocessed logs from federal lands in the contiguous United States west of the 100th meridian. This law continues and refines the existing federal policy that restricts the export of unprocessed timber harvested from federal lands in the western United States. The state of Oregon has passed similar laws prohibiting exports from state-owned lands. The practice of substitution, defined as buying federal or state timber for processing while exporting logs grown on the company’s own lands, is also prohibited.
 
The general intent of the APHIS restriction is to protect the domestic timber resource in the United States from the introduction of unwanted pests that could damage the resource. The implementing rules and regulations describe in detail the acceptable treatments and handling procedures for imported logs or wood products. Current rules exempt Canada, and Mexican states that border the United States, from the terms of the restriction.
 
The softwood lumber agreement caps Canadian tax-free exports to the United States at 14.7 billion board-feet annually, 9 percent below the record 16.2 billion board-feet in 1995. The agreement contains a provision for an export tax of $50 per 1,000 board-feet for the first 650 million board-feet above the 14.7 billion board foot level, and $100 per thousand board-feet for amounts beyond 15.35 billion board feet. Exports from the maritime provinces, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are exempt from the terms of the agreement.