Tag Archives: timber industry

Idaho’s Lumber Industry Gets Boost from Trade Tariffs

Recent tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood lumber should reduce the amount of lumber the U.S. imports from Canada and boost the Idaho lumber industry this year. Softwood lumber — made from pine, fir, cedar and spruce — is mostly used for framing new houses.

Last year, according to Wood Resources Quarterly, imports from Canada accounted for 32 percent of lumber used in the United States. Less competition from Canada should boost U.S. mills’ profits, production and employment.

The countervailing duties on Canadian lumber imported to the United States range from 3 percent to 24.12 percent, averaging 19.88 percent. The U.S. Commerce Department plans to impose additional fees that would mean some lumber importers would face duties as high as 30.88 percent. Commerce says Canada is unfairly selling lumber in the U.S. below production costs, aided in part by improper government subsidies.

The new tariff is the latest step in a 35-year-old trade dispute between the two nations. U.S. lumber producers argue that the Canadian government unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry, since most timber cut in Canada comes from provincial forests. Provincial governments set prices administratively and are lower than if they were set in a competitive market. Under U.S. trade remedy laws, foreign trade benefiting from subsidies can be subject to a countervailing duty tariff to offset the subsidy and bring the price of the commodity back up to market rates.

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Idaho Timber Industry Expects Even Better Year

Improvement in the housing market hiked domestic demand for lumber, offsetting dampened foreign demand and pushing U.S. lumber production higher in 2012. Mills generally enjoyed stronger profit margins on improved lumber and log prices that remained at or below 2011 levels for most of 2012.

Idaho Forest Group Chairman Marc Brinkmeyer told Idaho lawmakers in early January he does not see a downside for the timber industry in 2013. “The only question is what level is the upside?” he said, predicting higher employment and wages for this year.

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