Elimination of tariffs on forest products exports to EU is welcomed in British Columbia, but forestry and wood products companies say it will have little effect as their businesses are focused on Asian, US markets

PORT ALBERNI, British Columbia , October 22, 2013 () – The new agreement between Canada and the European Union will eliminate existing tariffs on forest products being exported to Europe.

Canada is the world's leading exporter of softwood lumber, newsprint and wood pulp, and in Port Alberni it is an important part of the local economy with active logging and major pulp, paper and sawmills.

However, local forestry companies do not predict an immediate affect on their sales despite tariffs being eliminated.

The agreement, once it takes effect, will eliminate existing tariffs on all forest products, which range from seven to 10 per cent on plywood.

Most of the forestry companies with a stake in Port Alberni are actually focused on Asia.

"Due to proximity, Island Timberlands places little to no effort in marketing our products into the [European Union," said Island Timberlands manager of sustainable timberlands and community affairs Morgan Kennah.

"Therefore, this has little effect on our business today."

Port Alberni Port Authority director of public relations and business development David McCormick said, "What is best for trade in Canada is good for all Canadians; including those involved in shipping and receiving goods."

However, McCormick said the shipping trade from the local port authority is entirely destined to Asian markets. "The Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU may have some indirect impact on West Coast ports in the long term but that is yet to be seen," McCormick said.

"So, there is no immediate impact expected on current PAPA operations."

Coulson Manufacturing has been exporting value-added cedar from its sawmill near China Creek, but operations manager Foster Coulson said the Canada-EU trade agreement "won't have much to do with us."

The Coulson's value added cedar product is mostly shipped to eastern Canada, California and Colorado.

Representatives fro Western Forest Products, TimberWest and Catalyst Paper did not reply to requests for comment.

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