The National Association of Home Builders took aim at the US Commerce Department’s desire to double lumber tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the US from 9% to 18.32% with a statement on its website.
“At a time when soaring lumber prices have added nearly $36,000 to the price of a new home and priced millions of middle-class households out of the housing market, the Biden administration’s preliminary finding on Friday to double the tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the US shows the White House does not care about the plight of American home buyers and renters who have been forced to pay much higher costs for housing,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said in a statement on the site.
In the note, Fowke accused the White House of being disingenuous when it claims the nation’s housing affordability crisis is an important priority. Earlier this year, NAHB said that lumber prices, which are triple what they were in April 2020, increased average single-family home construction by nearly $36,000.
“This move certainly demonstrates a lack of courage to stand up to the US lumber lobby that is already reaping record profits off the backs of hardworking American families,” said Fowke, chairman of the homebuilding lobby.
Furthermore, Fowke called the lumber tariffs a tax on American home buyers, renters and businesses that rely on lumber products. “Lumber prices are already up more than 300% from a year ago. If the administration’s decision to double tariffs is allowed to go into effect, it will further exacerbate the nation’s housing affordability crisis, put even more upward pressure on the price of lumber and force millions of US home buyers and lumber consumers to foot the bill for this ill-conceived protectionist action,” Fowke said
The 9% tariff rate is fairly recent. Until last December, tariffs were 20%. In December, the US reduced tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports to around 9%. Canada is this country’s largest trading partner for softwood lumber.
While prices have risen, Canadian lumber shipments to the US fell for the fourth straight year in 2020, according to forest industry consulting firm Wood Resources International reports. “A reduction in the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) in the province of British Columbia has reduced production volumes in that region by over a third in just five years,” the organization said.
About 3.3 million cubic meters were estimated to have come from Europe to help make up the difference, but a more significant factor is southern US production.
“Since around 2010, the US South has been the dominant lumber producing region for domestic use and is well-positioned to continue in that role,” Scott Reaves, director of forest operations at Domain Timber Advisors, tells GlobeSt.com. “The best way to address US lumber shortages is to ensure a healthy domestic forest products supply chain from forestland owners to mills to end users.”