Tariffs and import rules impacting U.S. cabinetry and remodel, says researcher

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Countervailing duties on plywood and softwood, tariffs on steel and aluminum are "having a profound impact on U.S. cabinetry manufacturers," says John Sherwin (left), a researcher with Freedonia Group.

After a 20.83 tariff was imposed on on Canadian softwood imports in November 2017 (including pine, spruce, and fir), softwood lumber prices jumped, and they have remained high since. Longer-term anticipated results include:
• an estimated 7% increase in the cost of new home construction in the U.S. (according to the National Association of Home Builders)
• surging profits for U.S. lumber producers, such as Georgia-Pacific.
In May 2018, the Random Lengths Framing Lumber Index hit the highest level since its inception in 1995, rising 30% from the previous year. (It has since lowered but not to pre-peak levels.)
Despite the price rise, supply was not impacted, and in a May 2018 survey, 31 percent of single-family homebuilders reported a framing lumber shortage. "These additional costs are leading prospective home buyers in the U.S. to either postpone construction, opt for a smaller home, or buy an existing home instead of building," Sherwin says. He will be presenting resuilts 

The issue is still in flux, as the United States continues to bargain with China on trade. In early December, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to 90-day halt of a tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports.


The deal postponed a March 1 deadline for a new round of tariffs that would have be levied on oak, beech, maple, ash, cherry, moldings, rods, particleboard, various types of plywood, doors, charcoal, corks, and stoppers, and wicker and bamboo baskets. Furniture items include bedding, mattresses, car seats, wood chairs, furniture designed for offices, kitchens, chandeliers, and lamps.

However until it is resolved, the effects transcend housing construction alone, with remodelers and manufacturers of flooring, cabinets, and related building and construction products purchased by both professionals and DIYers worried about the longer-term effects. For example, consumers may not be as willing to finance lumber-intensive home renovations given the higher costs.

Not only wood is affected - but raw materials for hardware as well, as steel and aluminum tariffs also carry significant implications for the U.S fasteners industry, which is an intensive user of foreign-made steel and aluminum. Because fastener companies primarily compete on the price of raw materials, US companies could lose share to foreign concerns as import costs for these metals continue to rise, or in some cases even go out of business.

At the 2019 Executive Briefing Conference, a presentation on Tariffs & Import Rule Impacts will be made by John Sherwin, Project Manager in custom research at market analyst's Freedonia Group. Sherwin will present a compendium of studies and original research for EBC 2019, into impacts trade restrictions are expectd to have. 

Sherwin has experience in strategic market analysis, competitor analysis and customer studies for a wide range of markets. His work has included target market forecasting and analysis, voice of the customer studies, industry research and competitor analysis. At Freedonia, Sherwin has worked on a broad range of projects with a focus on construction, packaging and industrial markets. Prior to joining Freedonia in 2005, Sherwin spent six years in Ernst & Young’s Center for Business Knowledge, where he worked as an internal consultant specializing in market and competitive intelligence analysis for the firm’s Consulting and Tax practices.

Sherwin also spent nine years working in various aspects of the market research field serving industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications and business services. Sherwin holds a BS in communications from Ohio University and an MBA from Cleveland State University. To learn mpore about Sherwin's presentation and the Executive Briefing Conference, visit www.executivebriefingconference.com 


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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.