A possible trade deal with China announced this month might not be broad enough to save U.S. hardwood timber companies from layoffs, cutbacks and closings, industry representatives say.
Chinese tariffs slapped on exports of red oak, walnut and other hardwoods have cut almost 50 percent of the revenue in the industry since 2017. Lumber companies have responded by closing sawmills and eliminating shifts.
"When China slapped a 25 percent tariff rate on red oak logs and lumber, it cratered the price producers can get for red oak. That's a huge chunk of demand that's disappeared," said