Other Views: Changing lumber market
Many Americans in extractive industries, and in the regions dependent on them, voted for Donald Trump. These regions — whether in Appalachia or Southern Oregon — are among the poorest in the country, and have the worst government services. Call the sheriff's office in Douglas County, for instance, and you're likely to get an answering machine.
These regions and people have been left behind by the American political class. So they elected Trump. And last week, the new president said he would impose a 20 percent tariff on imported Canadian softwood lumber.
The U.S. purchases about 80 percent of such lumber produced in Canada at a cost of about $6 billion a year, according to Canadian government data. In timber-rich Oregon, there is a real opportunity to take advantage of the new tariffs. For American consumers and homebuilders, prepare to see higher prices at the lumber store.
But this is the perfect opportunity for Trump to try out his overall policies. A federal investigation found Canada was unfairly subsidizing its timber industry, allowing it to undercut U.S. competitors. Trump has long argued that the U.S. has been on the wrong end of bad deals. Trump's predecessor agreed Canada was being unfair, but the two countries had been unable to reach agreement.
If timber bounces back in the U.S., you can imagine Trump and his administration promoting similar protectionist policies on an array of imported goods. Perhaps NAFTA is next in his sights.
Right now, Oregon's trees have become more marketable.