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Lumber Prices Rise After Hurricanes, Political Deadlock

Recent hurricanes in the southern U.S. and an ongoing political deadlock between the U.S. and Canadian governments threaten to raise the prices of softwood lumber, reports Canadian newspaper The National Post.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Commerce claimed Canada was subsidizing its lumber industry and selling softwood nearly 7 percent below the fair market price. The department imposed tariffs of nearly 30 percent on all Canadian softwood. Canada has denied subsidizing the industry. In August, the U.S. postponed a final ruling on the matter as the two countries attempted to negotiate a compromise, according to The National Post’s report.

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma battering the southern portion of the U.S., the ongoing dispute could drive prices on building material even higher as families and businesses look to rebuild their properties, the article states.

In a recent report, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), based in Washington, D.C., states the tariffs will “boost lumber costs by 8.8 percent for U.S. consumers and add $1,700 to the cost of a typical single-family home.”

“This is important because tariffs—basically just a tax on consumers—will be felt most harshly by families trying to rebuild,” says Granger MacDonald, NAHB’s board chairman.

At least 200,000 houses in Houston alone were damaged by Hurricane Harvey and rebuilding costs in Texas could be as high as $150 million, reports The National Post. Hurricane Irma claimed 47 lives, including 12 deaths in the U.S., and search and rescue efforts are still ongoing, according to The New York Times.

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