Thanks to its quarrel with Canada, houses in the U.S. are turning more and more to Russian lumber

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture compiled by Bloomberg Quint Image credit: Bloomberg Quint

According to Bloomberg Quint, Russia has emerged victorious from the drawn out trade dispute Canada and the United States (U.S.) over softwood lumber – after slapping Canada with tariffs, the country is importing more softwood lumber from Russia.

In fact, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), lumber shipments from Russia to the U.S. have jump 42 per cent so far for 2017.

While Russian lumber is still a minority in the total imports, with Germany and Sweden among the biggest lumber suppliers to the U.S., the dramatic shift in volumes has managed to show how the spat between Canada and the U.S. has changed the flow of international trade.

“There seem to be that there’s something illogical that we’re not buying the lumber from our neighbours to the north, that we’re buying it from the Russians,” CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Jerry Howard, said in an interview with Bloomberg Quint. “That’s sort of the looking glass that we’ve gone through and that’s what the market is forcing us to do now.”

Howard added that the trade dispute has raised the material costs for homebuilders in the U.S. by 20 per cent. The additional cost added to Canadian softwood lumber has trickled down to consumers, and may even price some of them out of the market. According to Howard, for every US$1,000 increased for the price of a home, an estimated 150,000 people are priced out.

“Fewer houses are being built at the moderate price points, and they’re not being built because the cost of limber puts them out of too much of the consumers’’ buying range,” he explained.

Monthly softwood lumber imports from Russia went up to 4,214cbm in May 2017, a figure not seen since January 2008, figures from the USDA showed.


Sources: Bloomberg Quint, United States Department of Agriculture