Sep 25, 2019

US Hardwood Lumber Industry Crippled by Trump Administration Trade War

Many in the US lumber industry believe President Trump's trade war with China has been catastrophic for the industry. Not only have the prices for lumber species like red oak, ash, and cherry dropped by the full face value of the tariffs China instituted in September 2018, many in lumber sales and marketing see the trade policy as having made global prices far more volatile in general and have produced a long-term dislocation of lumber markets overall. Domestically, industry leaders have seen a decrease of more than 40 percent in exports to China and a $615 million drop in total value of lumber exports.


The Trump administration argues that the back-and-forth over tariffs is necessary as a part of a negotiation tactic that it says will benefit the US economy in the long run. To make up for losses sustained in the agricultural sector, that has also been hit hard by this prolonged trade war--especially soybean farmers--the administration has granted a $16 billion dollar relief package to help them survive the trade war. However, the hardwood industry has received no such support. Indeed, the US Department of Agriculture has made it clear that the industry will get none either, as in their view, hardwood lumber is not an agricultural commodity and jurisdictionally the industry falls in the purview of the Department of Commerce.