Canadian Softwood Tariffs — Cause for Concern?

Washington is proposing a new tariff on Canadian lumber imports. While these conversations are nothing new, prices have already been increased close to 20% overall in anticipation of these new fees.

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Canadian softwood lumber makes up just under a third of the total lumber in the US. To have new tariffs introduced could have drastic implications for many both in Canada and across the country.

For Canada, the higher tariffs could cause infrastructure failure. As lumber mills have to increase their prices, their potential for business could decrease massively, causing job loss and in some cases could have irrevocable damage on the reputation of the company.

Within the United States, prices could increase across the board. It takes about 15,000 board feet of lumber for a new home. That said, the 20% increase on Canadian imports could add around $3,600 to the initial costs of building a new home.

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To combat this and keep the cost down, the US must looks elsewhere to meet the demand. First, there would need to be an increase in domestic lumber production. This would result in additional deforestation and could have permanent damage on the planet’s ecosystem.

Another option is looking at other countries the US partners with. On one end, domestic producers will have to stop selling to international companies. To subsidize what is obtained through Canada, mills have been selling to other countries at a competitive rate. The focus would have to reign in to meet the needs of American projects first, before going oversees to sell.

On the flipside of that, the US could talk with other governments to see if they can work something out regarding the necessary lumber. Whether this involves lower tariffs for imports or exports, the price cuts would have to be shared on both sides to be beneficial.

Depending on the severity of the shortage and/or the increased prices due to tariffs, the US could risk losing affordable housing for home buyers. There is a lot of uncertainty in the market, but we hope to hear more from Washington on this soon.

Whether or not the new tariffs are agreed on, done away with completely, or something else entirely, only time will tell. Continue to check out MeeksBlog.com for any updates.

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