What USMCA Means for Wood Decking Prices

Assuming that you come across the news at least once a month (if not… maybe give it a try?) then you have probably heard about Canada & USA trade disputes and agreements.

The Hollywood-esque drama in renegotiating NAFTA into USMCA has consumed headlines for the past 6 months. One of the biggest points of contention, which has been for over two decades, is Canadian wood prices.

So how does this affect you and your backyard deck? Is there any impact on what decking lumber to choose?

The Softwood Lumber Dispute

As a nation, Canada is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. One of those being a large supply of softwood lumber. A significant portion of forests that get felled are on government land. As such, American critics accuse Canada of having lower than market-rate fees, known as “stumpage,” compared to prices in the United States. This condemnation has been going on for over two decades!

This has caused the American government to impose various countermeasures on Canadian lumber. Currently, there are tariffs of about 20% on Canadian softwood lumber going to the USA.

The volatility in what the American government will do puts the Canadian lumber industry on edge.

Trade Agreements & Decking Lumber

NAFTA’s Dispute Resolution

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada has been able to take up the issue of lumber tariffs in front of an expert panel. This was known as Chapter 19 and, while rarely used, was mostly called upon for softwood lumber issues.

The expert panels would often side in Canada’s favour, yet, conflict would continue to arise year after year. Without this conflict resolution panel, the Canadian softwood lumber industry would have been a lot worse off.

In other words, you can thank Chapter 19 for its help in making wood decking prices relatively stable.

Dawn of USMCA & Impact on Wood Prices

On September 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed in principle on a new document that would govern trade. This agreement, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or “USMCA,” would take over for NAFTA once officially signed.

While softwood lumber was not explicitly mentioned in the deal, the binational review panel remains in place. This has drawn praise from the BC Lumber Trade Council & the FPAC.

However, the tariffs on steel and aluminum have stayed in place. This, along with current softwood lumber disputes, have made Canadian lumber suppliers raise prices. This is because of the lower American demand for wood and the increase in American home costs from the increase on steel and aluminum.

Your Safe Choice for Decking Lumber

There is a lot of uncertainty in the Canadian lumber market with USMCA and currently imposed tariffs and duties. Exotic woods seem to be the better bet as the new trade deal has not affected their costs.

This makes long-lasting hardwoods, like genuine mahogany, ipe, and teak, a solid investment for decking lumber.

Genuine mahogany, in particular, is worthwhile since it holds up well in the current rain/snow weather. To get the most amount of information about genuine mahogany and how it holds up to other decking material, contact us and we would be happy to discuss it with you!