The statement concerned negotiations on a trade deal for softwood lumber.
If you have ever wondered why so-called free trade arrangements take so long to complete and seem to require pages and pages of trade details, it is instructive to examine the statement put out by Obama and Trudeau.
First, they tell us this:
Given the great importance of the softwood lumber industry to the economies of the United States and Canada, on March 10, 2016, we instructed the United States Trade Representative and the Canadian Minister of International Trade to intensively explore all options and report back on the key features that would address the issue.
In response to these instructions, our Ministers and their teams have been meeting diligently on softwood lumber over the past three months. These discussions have been challenging but productive.Then they pretty much tell us that what they are really negotiating is a crony deal:
The U.S. and Canadian federal governments have made significant advances in understanding our industries' sensitivities and priorities since March...
A new softwood lumber agreement will need to reflect the realities of Canadian timber management policies and the U.S. domestic market. A new agreement must be equitable and provide a predictable business environment that gives producers on both sides of our border the ability to react confidently to changing market conditions. Any agreement must deliver a durable and equitable solution and benefit softwood lumber producers from Canada and the United States, related industries and consumers, and support the overall economic well-being of both countries.Then it is down to the nitty gritty of the protectionist aspects of the developing deal:
Efforts to achieve such an outcome will be facilitated by focussing on the following key features:
an appropriate structure, designed to maintain Canadian exports at or below an agreed U.S. market share to be negotiated, with the stability, consistency and flexibility necessary to achieve the confidence of both industries;
provisions for region or company exclusions if justified;...
provisions to ensure information collection and exchange to create meaningful transparency;
institutional arrangements to administer the agreement;
effective enforcement tools that are neutral, transparent, binding, expeditious, and well-timed to address concerns as they arise;...These aren't "free trade" deals that are being negotiated. They are protectionist deals that favor the well-connected.
provisions to address other issues, such as product scope, remanufacturers and joint market development
The full statement is here.