Chinese tariffs lifted on American hardwoods

The action also eliminated tariffs on medical products needed to fight the coronavirus

U.S. Forest Service photo

MADISON, Wis. -- Chinese retaliatory tariffs on several American hardwood products were eliminated for the next 12 months as of February 28, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC).

Products specified included oak logs, and oak, cherry and ash lumber, said Tripp Pryor, an international program manager for the AHEC.

The hardwood tariff changes were attached to a measure by which the Chinese government also eliminated tariffs on medical products needed to fight the coronavirus (Covid-19). Pryor said that demand for hardwood products may rebuild slowly because of factory closings in effect in China to limit the spread of the disease. Demand for U.S. hardwoods had been reduced severely, particularly for oak.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Pryor said. “But it’s definitely good news.”

AHEC had pushed for hardwoods to be included in the Phase I trade deal that was announced on January 15.

The retaliatory tariffs had caused a severe drop in exports of hardwoods to China. In 2018, some 54 percent of U.S. hardwood export volume was destined for China. Resumption of Chinese import demand should boost hardwood prices as during 2020.

In a related matter affecting softwoods, earlier in February China’s Tariff Committee of the State Council announced that it would open a process for Chinese companies to apply for retaliatory tariff exemptions. This would allow them to import some volume of specific products up to an authorized import volume, according to the Southern Forest Products Association. These exemptions also would figure into commitments made in the Phase I trade deal.

Businesses may begin to apply for these exemptions on March 2. Businesses seeking to import these products to China may file applications online at with the Chinese government finance agency on that date.

Products eligible for the exemption are:

  • Radiata Pine Wood, Sawn Lengthwise, Thk>6Mm (tariff code: 44071120)
  • Douglas Fir Wood, Sawn Lengthwise, Thk>6Mm (tariff code: 44071130)
  • Other Pine Wood, Sawn Lengthwise, Thick>6Mm (tariff code: 44071190)
  • Fir (Abies Spp.) And Spruce (Picea Spp.) Wood, Sawn Lengthwise, Thick>6Mm (tariff code: 44071200)
  • Other Coniferous Wood, Sawn Lengthwise, Thick>6Mm (tariff code: 44071900)

Meanwhile, two appeals by U.S. forest product industry groups for trade relief progressed through the U.S. government.

American Millwork products

The Coalition of American Millwork Producers (CAMP) petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission (ITC) for relief in trade between the United States, China, and Brazil. The coalition’s anti-dumping and countervailing duty case, filed by Wiley Rein LLP, CA asserts that trade practices by China and Brazil have severely harmed American businesses and workers. In 2018, total sales of these products in the U.S. were approximately $1.3 billion in molding and other related building products.

Radiata pine plywood

The U.S. Department of Commerce has affirmed its preliminary determination that decorative softwood-faced plywood is subject to the antidumping and countervailing duty order of 194 percent on these Chinese imports. Four U.S. producers in the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood filed a petition with the Department of Commerce, asking the agency to find that imports of Chinese hardwood plywood products with face and back veneers made of softwood species suitable for decorative uses are circumventing the recently issued antidumping and countervailing duty orders on hardwood plywood products from China.

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