China halts tariffs on North American hardwoods
February 21, 2020 | 2:45 pm CST
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WASHINGTON - The Chinese government has announced it will remove tariffs on certain species of U.S. and Canadian hardwood lumber for one year, starting Feb. 28.

Published Feb. 21, the exemption lists several North American hardwoods, including cherry, ash, oak and "other" lumber and logs. In a note to its members, the National Hardwood Lumber Association said, "Work is underway to define exactly what that will mean for these products and what the definite tariff rate will be moving forward." The NHLA noted it would likely not have additional information for another few days.

Products on the first list allow Chinese importers to apply for refunds of collected duties within six months from Feb. 21. Items on the second list are exempted, but the affected companies cannot apply for tariff refunds.

Posted on the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China website: "the goods listed in List 1 will no longer be subject to the tariffs imposed by me in anti-US 301 measures. The customs duties and taxes that have been levied will be refunded, and the relevant import enterprises shall apply to the customs for processing within 6 months from the date of publication of the exclusion list." (via Google Translate)

Commenting separately, Gene Wengert, the Wood Dr., said that it is likely hardwood lumber prices will rise quickly and substantially, and supplies will be very tight.

The agency said it will continue to work on the exemption process and release subsequent lists. "Next step, the State Council Customs Tariff Commission will continue to exclude tariffs on the United States and Canada and publish a subsequent batch exclusion list in due course."

The announcement comes approximately one month after the United States and China signed the first phase of a bilateral agreement in Washington to end the two-year trade dispute. A fact sheet released at the signing referenced hardwood lumber as part of the Chinese purchasing agreement.

Last year, sales of U.S. softwood and hardwood logs to China, fell $646 million as of early December, according to USDA Foreign Agriculture Service. The decrease began shortly after China placed retaliatory percent tariffs on imports of lumber and veneer.

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Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at karen.koenig@woodworkingnetwork.com