The feud between the U.S. and Canada over softwood lumber, which is wood commonly used by builders to construct home frames, has been kicked up to the next level.
The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration and the Commerce Department have enacted a new set of tariffs, of 3 percent to 24 percent, on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The countries have been at odds over softwood lumber for more than 100 years. In 2015, Canada sent $4.7 billion in softwood lumber to the U.S.
American builders are opposed to the tariffs, saying that they will raise the costs of building new homes. According to NAHB, a 15 percent tariff would increase new home prices by 4.2 percent.
At the conflict’s heart is a fundamental difference in forestry ownership. In the United States, forest lands are largely held by lumber companies. In Canada, they tend to be owned by the government, and American mills contend that Canadian provinces subsidize their industries by charging low royalty rates for cutting trees.