A lingering trade dispute between the US and Canada is expected to keep tariffs on softwood lumber in place, adding to soaring inflation costs.

The US is expected to lower duty rates on Canadian softwood lumber in a ruling next week, but not get rid of them, said Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council. That means Canadian companies will still have to pay tariffs hovering near 11 per cent, heaping more costs on American homebuilders and buyers, she said.

The Trump administration slapped tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber in 2017, saying the industry is unfairly subsidized. The US raised rates on imports in 2021 even as an unprecedented rally lifted prices to record highs during a pandemic-fueled homebuilding and renovation boom. US builders get more than a quarter of their lumber from Canada, the world’s largest softwood lumber exporter. 

West Fraser Timber Co. Chief Executive Officer Ray Ferris said Thursday “there doesn’t appear to be anything meaningfully happening” to resolve the spat. 

“It’s very frustrating particularly at a time when lots of people are facing a lot inflationary pressure,” Yurkovich said in an interview. “The US industry is putting an additional tax on consumers.”