U.S. word on trade 'good as gold,' Rice saysBy TERRY WEBER
Tuesday, October 25, 2005 Posted at 2:27 PM EDT
Globe and Mail Update
The United States' word is "as good as gold" when it comes to international agreements and the current Canada-U.S. dispute over softwood lumber — while important — needs to be kept in perspective, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.
"I think it's extremely important not to speak in apocalyptic language about this issue," she told reporters during a news conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in Ottawa. "It is an important issue. But it is a trade dispute."
She said the two countries have "many, many, many trade agreements" and that they have weathered past disputes — both major and minor — under the North American free-trade agreement, but they have always been resolved.
Ms. Rice also said it is important not to let the softwood issue undermine what she called "our very good working relationship" on other issues.
"We have a dispute on this issue," she said. "I am quite certain that with goodwill and with effort, we can resolve this dispute.
"But, again, I think it's extremely important to keep it in perspective."
The already sensitive softwood issue turned into a hot-button topic earlier this year over the United States' refusal to abide by a NAFTA panel ruling ordering it to pay back $3.5-billion in duties it had illegally collected on lumber.
Canada is also expecting another favourable ruling for an additional $1.5-billion that the U.S. has collected in softwood duties. Ottawa would also expect that money as well.
Canada has said that it will not back down on the issue or negotiate on the panel's ruling. At a dinner with Ms. Rice on Monday, Prime Minister Paul Martin told her that Canada needs "some demonstration of commitment" to the NAFTA rules.
On Tuesday, Ms. Rice acknowledged the differences between the two countries on the issue — which the U.S. says it would like to resolve through negotiation — but insisted that those differences don't characterize overall trade relations.
"I know that the softwood lumber issue is extremely important to Canada and extremely important particularly to parts of Canada," she said.
"It is a small percentage of our overall trade, and most of the time, as a matter of fact, the great majority of the time, our trade simply goes on.
"When we have disputes we resolve them."
Mr. Pettigrew, speaking at the same news conference, said it was "imperative" that Canada and the United States find a resolution to the dispute because both nations "need NAFTA to be vibrant, to be strong."
He noted that, while the United States is Canada's biggest export market, the flow of trade also goes the other way, with about 25 per cent of U.S. goods coming into this country.
"It is a two-way street," he said. "My view is that NAFTA is a very solid agreement that has served us very well.
"Americans have always respected their words. Canadians as well. Over softwood lumber, there is a problem. We, the diplomats, will help our trade colleagues to resolve it."
In the House of Commons, Mr. Martin — responding to suggestions from the Opposition that the government's position was softening — again insisted Canada won't negotiate with the United States on the NAFTA decision.
"We will not negotiate a win," he said. "NAFTA will be respected."
then the globe and mail has an online poll asking if people agree the usa's word is 'good as gold'. so far 91% say no. rice has no qualms about lying and/or making a fool of herself.
The breaking of these type of agreements shows the fallacy of the rhetoric used to sell these trade deals in the first place. The question is not free trade, as it was sold, but who in these agreements wins and are they really honored?
I see the actions (or inactions) of the USDA in their competency of handling their regulatory duties and carrying out statutes, quite frankly, hostage to the same type of pressures as the lumber issue. Big money and revolving door politics.
Don't feel bad...Those trade agreements were made and signed on to by US politicians - many who daily bend, break, and weasel around US regulations and laws as masters of the loophole- you can't expect them to follow international law or treaties...They lie to us - why should they be truthful with foreigners?.......
Kinda funny that these issues have been ongoing ( and mostlly ignored by the U.S. administrations) until Canada announced it was willing to negotiate large energy deals with Red China. Condoleeza was in Ottawa real fast!