The Impact of Fair Trade on the U.S. Housing Market

The facts are clear – the impact of softwood lumber on the price of a new home is minimal. An average new home costs $377,200 and requires about 16,000 board feet of lumber. As of November 2018, lumber costs $340 per thousand board feet, amounting to $5,440, or less than 2% of the cost of an average-priced home.

This shows that despite claims to the contrary, homebuyers are not significantly harmed by the introduction of antidumping and countervailing duties on imported Canadian softwood lumber. In fact, Brendan Lowney, a principal at Forest Economic Advisors, acknowledges that the lumber duties have “negligible” impact on the housing industry. However, U.S. lumber mills are harmed without these duties, which are a normal government action, only offsetting the unfair advantage the Canadian government has bestowed on their softwood lumber industry.

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