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Highlights

In 2006, the United States and Canada signed the Softwood Lumber Agreement. The agreement, among other things, imposed export charges and quotas on Canadian lumber exports to the United States. To assist in monitoring compliance with the agreement, in 2008 Congress passed the Softwood Lumber Act, which imposed several data collection and analysis requirements on the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and required two reports from GAO. This report discusses (1) CBP's processes for meeting the act's requirements and (2) how these requirements contribute to U.S. efforts to monitor compliance with the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement. GAO issued a report in June 2009 on U.S. agency efforts to monitor compliance with the 2006 agreement. This report includes an update on these efforts. GAO analyzed information from relevant U.S. agencies, interviewed knowledgeable officials, and discussed these issues with U.S. and Canadian industry representatives.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security 1. To provide Congress with sufficient time to clarify the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's requirements under the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to report to Congress on how the agency plans to fulfill the requirements of the act upon the expiration of international agreements related to softwood lumber.
Closed - Implemented
CBP concurred with the recommendation and concluded that the existence of an international agreement is a precondition to the steps required in the Act and that, based on discussions with congressional staff at the time of the passage of the Act, the purpose of the Act was to ensure compliance "pursuant to an international agreement entered into by that country and the United States." In November, 2012, CBP contacted Congressional staffers to propose that, upon expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement in 2015, CBP discontinue the requirements imposed on importers of softwood lumber that were implemented in accordance with the Softwood Lumber Act of 2008.

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