An infographic from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows which countries are most affected by the ongoing lumber trade war.
The NAHB says actions taken by the Trump Administration are raising prices for home builders, restricting the flow of lumber from Mexico to the U.S., and holding back more activity in the housing market, reports MarketWatch.
Softwood lumber import tariffs of around 21 percent were levied onto Canada last year. NAHB told MarketWatch that those tariffs are restructuring the entire lumber global supply chain - incentivizing U.S. buyers to import from overseas rather than ship lumber across the Canadian border.
The NAHB says that the domestic market has also increased, but not by much. It rose from 67 to 69 percent from 2016 to 2018.
Some of these percentages seem extreme, like those of Austria, Norway, and the Czech Republic, among others. But many hardly imported to the U.S. to begin with. Norway's share, for example, went from a fraction of a percentage above zero in 2016 to 0.03 percent in 2018.
Production at Canfor
Canada's imports to the U.S. have certainly slipped, as we've covered before. Many Canadian lumber leaders have taken a hit - including West Fraser, Canfor, and Conifex - and restricted lumber production, with West Fraser and Canfor curtailing production more than once.
Some have plans to expand in the U.S. Canfor's $120 million state-of-the-art softwood lumber mill is set to open early this year in Georgia. Canada's federal government is also facilitating the expansions of U.S. lumber producers in Canada. More than $4 million was pledged to upgrade Louisiana-Pacific's sawmill, helping to create more than 200 jobs.
British Columbia - Canada's largest lumber-producing province - exported just over 514 million board feet of lumber to the U.S. in October 2018, down from 645 million board feet from the same time 2017.
Canada has never been happy with these tariffs, fighting them every step of the way.
NAHB told MarketWatch that it doesn't know why Mexico has taken such a hit. Their only guess is that a 2016 export surge naturally fizzled out. Mexico's numbers are still small though: $2 million in 2016 and $1.5 million in 2018.
Mexico's woodworking industry however, seems to be on the rise. Mexico's annual expo, Magna Expo Mueblera, grows every year. Big industry players, like Felder, Altendorf, SCM, and Biesse have all shown interest in the Mexican market.
NAHB reported that lumber prices between January 2017 and late 2018 are enough to increase the average price of a single-family home by $6,388 and a multifamily housing unit by $2,430. These costs will have to be incurred by both the builder and the consumer.
U.S. softwood lumber demand is expected to continue its upward trajectory from the lows of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, reaching an all-time high by mid-2020s, according to a newly released U.S. Lumber Outlook Study by ForestEdge LLC and Wood Resources International LLC.

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