Conflict Intensifies Between U.S. And Canada Over Softwood Lumber

Wood prices have increased 20 percent since November, soon after a temporary agreement between the two nations expired

April 20, 2017

The long-running spat over softwood lumber imports between the U.S. and Canada is reaching a breaking point.

Bloomberg reports that wood prices have risen 20 percent since November, a month after an agreement between the two nations expired. The U.S. has feuded with Canada for more than 30 years about the sales and prices of softwood lumber of Canadian suppliers in the U.S.

The price increase can add an additional $3,000 to $5,000 in costs for building an average home.

“There’s a tremendous amount of frustration because of this," said Jerry Carter, a custom home builder and remodeler in Dallas. “It’s similar to the impact if you go to buy gas one day and decide not to buy it when it was three dollars, and then you go back first thing in the morning and it’s four dollars. Except you’re buying $10,000 worth of gas.”

In 2015, Canada sent $4.7 billion in softwood lumber to the U.S., representing only 2 percent of its exports to its southern neighbor. Softwood comes from trees that have cones, such as pine or spruce. Builders use the lumber to construct home frames. The wood is also used by mattress companies in box springs.

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