Readers Respond: Bad looks on Canadian lumber deal

Last week, the Commerce Department followed up on a trade dispute that's been up in the air since the U.S. and Canada's Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in October 2015 with a plan to collect an average of about 20% on lumber entering the country from Canada.

The moved generated a wide range of reaction in the industry, but we wanted to hear from our readers, too.

In a poll earlier this week, we asked whether it was conducive (or counterproductive) of the Department of Commerce to slap tariffs on Canadian lumber.

The largest share of respondents -- 48% -- said "bad move: Bad for the consumer, and bad for the housing market." Another 23% said "don't know: It's a complicated ecosystem, and only time will tell."

For those who embraced the move with more certainty: 29% answered "good move: Good for U.S. mills, and good for future negotiations."

What do you think? Take our poll here.


- 9:41 AM
joe in the forest says

The recently imposed Countervailing Duty on import Canadian softwood lumber products is ill advised, and will punish U.S. consumers more than the Canadian producers. Consider the following: 1. Any duty applied to Canadian softwood lumber entering into the U.S. will be passed directly on to the purchaser in the form of higher prices. These will be passed onto the consumer who will pay more for everything from a house, to the repair and remodeling project that was being planed. At some point the price becomes more than the consumer can support and the project or purchase is not made. 2. Most builders prefer to frame with SPF. Ouch ! I know that hurts to say, but even with the new pneumatic nailing guns, Southern Pine is more dense and difficult to work with. It works fine as a joist but for stud wall etc., it is not the builders first or even second choice. 3. Many of the domestic mills that are asking for protection are in fact subsidiaries of Canadian forest products company. In the South in particular, Canfor, Interfor, West Fraser, are now major U.S. Southern Pine producers. In essence it appears that the Countervailing Duty is punishing the parent Canadian company. But the end effect has been a price increase on all softwood lumber products both Canadian and domestically produced. 4. We're not done yet. In June there will be a determination if Canadian mills have been dumping SPF and other Canadian produced softwood lumber products into the U.S. Should they be found guilt of that as well the ~ 20% Countervailing Duty could be joined by an anti dumping fine anywhere from 3.5% to 12%. That would increase the overall combined CVD and anti dumping penalty to as much as 36%. Again, all that would be passed onto domestic (US) consumers. It is hardly the fault of the Canadian producers that the U.S. Interior Department has shutoff timber harvesting on Federal land in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Nor is it Canadian producers fault that much of the forest land in the Southern US is held by private landowners - some of which are REITS owned by other large U.S. forest products companies. Whether the tariff is on avocados or fruit from Mexico, or lumber or dairy products from Canada, the truth is the tariffs only seem to punish the U.S. consumer, who gets to pay more for what they want or that isn't produced here.

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