Lumber Exports and Imports are on the Rise

Filed in Construction Industry by on February 21, 2018 3 Comments

As punitive duties averaging more than 20% were imposed on Canadian softwood lumber imports in 2017, domestic producers responded by shipping record amounts of lumber overseas.

U.S. exports overseas climbed 9% in 2017, compared to a modest 1% increase in 2016 and a sharp 16% drop in 2015. Exports to China, the largest U.S. offshore customer, were up 21% from 2016. Producers of southern yellow pine exported 41% more to China in 2017 than they did in 2016.

At the same time that domestic lumber producers claimed they were being harmed by Canadian imports, they were sending record amounts of softwood lumber overseas because they could charge a higher premium to foreign nations.

Meanwhile, the tariffs are harming housing affordability, causing extreme price volatility and incentivizing foreign nations to boost lumber exports to the U.S. because of record-high prices. The Random Lengths Framing Lumber Composite Price rose to $509 on Feb. 23, just $1 short of the all-time high of $510 and $99 above the $410 price of a year ago.

Lumber imports posted their fifth consecutive yearly gain in 2017. However, unlike the previous four years, the increase was accompanied by a decline in imports from Canada—the first such decline in six years.

Roughly one-third of the lumber used in the U.S. last year was imported. Even with rising imports from other nations, the bulk of imported lumber — more than 95% — came from Canada.

This is why NAHB believes it is imperative that the U.S. and Canada find an equitable long-term solution in lumber trade that provides a steady supply of lumber at a reasonable price.

In addition to working with political and industry leaders in Canada and the U.S. on the trade front, NAHB is urging top congressional and administration officials to open more public lands for domestic timber production. This is the most straightforward way to diminish reliance on imported lumber.

At the same time, we are calling on domestic producers to curb their timber exports when there is a gaping need at home.

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  1. John Bitely says:

    I really don’t see the issue of US lumber going to China and Canadian lumber coming into US, it isn’t really any different than if Canada shipped their lumber to China and we kept our lumber. Net is the same but because of tariffs and government intervention on trade we are seeing HUGE price spike and US citizen wanting a new home is paying the bill.

  2. Les Sjoholm says:

    US & Canadian Wood Products Sales for 2016 were over $218Billion (NAWLA 2016 figures).
    Who actually benefits form the US Duties? My opinion, only the large private land owning timber companies by increasing the much needed increase in stumpage value. However, they are also part of the largest exporters of LOGS. Log Exports for 2016 from just the US West Coast was over 850-million Board Feet Scribner (2016 US gov. figures converted from Log Cubic Meters) which is equivalent to keeping 61 US Medium to small sawmills operating for one year and employing over 3,600 sawmill workers which used to support small towns and communities. . This in turn would equate to a 40% to 60% more Lumber domestically available and exportable too.
    The 30% of Canadian LUMBER imports the Coalition claims damaging US producers must be offset by the US dollar to Canadian Dollar (27% today) which is just monetary non-industry thing. Also offset by the amount of LOG Exports and the high US Governmental City, State, and Federal business taxation rates which far exceeds the Lobbied Claimed Damages.
    Once again Washington DC, a non-forest products entity not being able not being able to see the trees through the forest.
    There are solutions, but as the current duties are implemented, I am against.

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