Double Duty: Canadian Softwood Lumber Tariffs Rise to 17.9%

December 2nd, 2021 by Chris Collier

The U.S. Department of Commerce has doubled countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports from 9% to 17.9%. The increase follows a decrease in December 2020 and is par for the decade’s fluctuating course. Where do The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) and the U.S. Lumber Coalition stand?

“NLBMDA strongly condemns the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to double tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports and calls on the Biden administration to reverse this unnecessary action,” says Jonathan Paine, NLBMDA president and CEO. “As the economy continues to grapple with crippling supply chain disruptions and price volatility, now is the wrong time to impose a new tax on American consumers and small businesses through additional tariffs. These tariffs will only exacerbate the nation’s affordable housing shortage and amplify existing challenges facing lumber and building material dealers.”

Canada exports nearly $8 billion worth of softwood lumber to the world annually, and the U.S. is its largest single buyer, according to official government data. The U.S. Lumber Coalition holds views that juxtapose those of the NLBMDA.

“The U.S. Lumber Coalition thanks the Commerce Department’s for their hard work and continued commitment to strongly enforce the U.S. trade laws against unfairly traded Canadian lumber imports,” says Jason Brochu, chairman of the U.S. Lumber Coalition and co-president of Pleasant River Lumber Company. “Trade law enforcement maximizes long-term domestic production and lumber availability and has already resulted in dramatic growth of U.S. made lumber to meet strong demand to build more American homes.”

Mary Ng, minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development for the Parliament of Canada, says the duty could affect the consumer.

“These unjustified duties harm Canadian communities, businesses and workers,” Ng says. “They are also a tax on U.S. consumers, raising the costs of housing, renovations and rentals at a time when housing affordability is already a significant concern for many.”

Ultimately, the NLBMDA disapproves of the hike, but Paine hopes it’s resolved in the future.

“This decision is even more troubling given that it directly contradicts the Administration’s previous efforts to address global supply chain disruptions, such as lifting tariffs on European steel and aluminum,” Paine adds. “NLBMDA strongly urges the Biden administration to pursue a permanent trade agreement with Canada that eliminates tariffs and brings long-term stability to the supply and pricing of softwood lumber.”

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