Chinese log tariffs send coastal lumber to Douglas County

December 6, 2018

While leaders from the U.S. and China are negotiating fair trade in the midst of $250 billion worth of tariffs, lumber mills in northern Oregon are sending off their winter shipments, unsure when they will have another load sold to China.

Meanwhile, Douglas County lumber mills are not feeling the same effect, according to Douglas Timber Operators Executive Director Matt Hill.

“This probably doesn’t have much impact on Douglas County operators,” Hill said in an email. “I doubt much of anything is being exported from here.”

The tariffs on products coming into the U.S. are up to $200 billion and were scheduled to go up again in the new year, before a meeting between the U.S. and China on Saturday. The meeting ended in a suspension of new tariffs.

At D.R. Johnson Lumber, Brian Johnson is the lumber salesman. He agreed with Hill.

“The tariffs aren’t going to affect us,” Johnson said. The tariffs vary by species and are on logs as a whole, not processed lumber.

John Blodgett Jr, log buyer at Douglas County Forest Products, said the tariffs on logs exported to China do have negative effects on tree farmers and shipping companies.

“For domestic mills, it’s generally been a positive thing, because it’s increased the supply of logs,” Blodgett said. “For tree farmers, it’s been negative in that it has increased the cost of doing business with China. We’ve noticed that there are more logs available in the coastal region and sellers are having a more difficult time being able to sell to China.”

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. imports $478.8 billion worth of products from China, more than any other single country. China is the third biggest importer of American goods, behind Canada and Mexico. It imports $169.8 billion worth of products.

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