Addressing the Softwood Timber Tariffs

Softwood lumber, most commonly used for wood-frame residential construction, has seen a significant increase in price over the last few years. These price increases have largely been due to tariffs on lumber from Canada.

The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement, which established fees and quotas on Canadian imports to the United States, expired on October 12, 2015. No agreement since has been made and tariffs are averaging over 20% in place. Between January 2017 and May 2018, lumber prices have increased the average price of a new single family home by $7,172 and a new multi-family unit by $2,662.

Our reliance on Canada for timber is imperative. In 2017, the US has consumed 47.62 billion board feet (bbf) yet only produced 33.86 bbf. Of the 15.18 bbf shortfall, Canada provides 93%. These costs not only affect construction jobs, but manufacturing, wholesale, and resale trade jobs, as well.

The increasing cost of softwood lumber has been the focus of NAHB lobbying efforts lately. A letter has been set to the Secretary of the US Department of Commerce and a United States Trade Representative regarding tariffs on softwood timber from Canada, signed by Congressmen Kenny Marchant and Brian Higgins.

Master Builders Association of Pierce County and OMB discussed this issue with Congressmen Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck earlier this month to spread awareness and spur action on this issue. We will keep our members informed on any updates to this situation.