While fears of inflation have spiked across the board in recent months, the rising cost of lumber and other building materials has been the cause of particular concern.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration announced last week that it planned to significantly increase the tariff charged on Canadian lumber imports, likely contributing to an even higher price for consumers.
“Must be an important priority”
As the Washington Examiner reports, the U.S. Department of Commerce has signaled its intent to more than double the tariff on Canadian lumber from the existing 8.99% to 18.32%.
Meanwhile, the price of lumber has already increased by about 275% on average in just the past year.
In a statement from the National Association of Home Builders, Chairman Chuck Fowke denounced the Biden administration’s move.
“At a time when soaring lumber prices have added nearly $36,000 to the price of a new home and priced millions of middle-class households out of the housing market, the Biden administration’s preliminary finding on Friday to double the tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. shows the White House does not care about the plight of American home buyers and renters who have been forced to pay much higher costs for housing,” he wrote.
Furthermore, Fowke asserted that the president has been “disingenuous” in claiming that “the nation’s housing affordability crisis must be an important priority” for the administration.
“This move certainly demonstrates a lack of courage to stand up to the U.S. lumber lobby that is already reaping record profits off the backs of hardworking American families,” he asserted.
“Subsidized and unfairly traded”
On the other hand, the co-chair of the U.S. Lumber Coalition argued in his own press release that the increased tariff was necessary to combat the influx of “heavily subsidized” lumber from Canada.
“A level playing field is a critical element for continued investment and growth for U.S. lumber manufacturing to meet strong building demand to build more American homes,” said Jason Brochu. “The U.S. Lumber Coalition applauds the Commerce Department’s continued commitment to strongly enforce the U.S. trade laws against subsidized and unfairly traded Canadian lumber imports.”
Notably, Canadian officials have added their voices to those opposed to the increased tariff, which is subject to a six-month review period and, if approved, would go into effect in November.
Although former President Donald Trump imposed a tariff hike on Canadian lumber in 2018, he later reduced it from 20% to 9% in response to intervention by the World Trade Organization on Canada’s behalf.