The strongest proponent of President Trump’s just-announced tariff on Canadian lumber imports is the U.S. lumber industry, its biggest critic may be members of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) who claim that the price increase will impact new-home buyers most.
While the tariff specifically targets lumber imports – an average 20% tariff cost increase that varies by Canadian company – the issue is more complicated than builders versus the lumber industry. However, NAHB believes no company will be impacted more than builders, and no U.S. citizens will be hurt more than new-home buyers.
“NAHB respectfully disagrees with comments made by U.S. Commerce Secretary Ross that the tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. will have little effect on the cost of housing,” said Granger MacDonald, chairman of NAHB, in a statement. “While Ross cannot cite specific consequences regarding this punitive tariff, we can: If the 20 percent lumber duty remains in effect throughout 2017, NAHB estimates this will result in the loss of nearly $500 million in wages and salaries for U.S. workers, $350 million in taxes and other revenue for the governments in the U.S. and more than 8,200 full-time U.S. jobs.”
MacDonald says that lumber prices have already jumped 22 percent since the beginning of the year, largely in anticipation of new tariffs, and that it will add nearly $3,600 to the price of a new single-family home.
The lumber industry, however, supports the tariff, focusing on an allegation that Canada subsidizes its lumber producers. The issue is complicated, however, by a U.S. lumber industry that relies largely on private forests compared to many Canadian companies that pay a government royalty for culling wood from Canadian-owned forests.
“What we’ve desired all this time is a level playing field, and news like this gives us confidence,” says Jason Brochu, co-president of Pleasant River Lumber in Maine.
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