Softwood dispute will only push cost of rebuilding Houston higher: Scotiabank

At least 200,000 houses damaged by the hurricane; ultimate cost will reach upwards of $150 billion.

OTTAWA — A senior bank economist says a growing demand for building materials – as Houston looks to reconstruct in the wake of Hurricane Harvey – should put pressure on the White House to solve the latest softwood lumber dispute with Canada.

Brett House, deputy chief economist at Scotiabank, says US home builders already use virtually every log imported from Canada, and any increase in demand following the hurricane’s devastation will mean the US looks to Canada for more wood.

House says that with the softwood dispute pushing prices upwards, continuing the quarrel will only serve to make the cost of rebuilding after the disaster even bigger.

At least 200,000 houses in the Houston area were damaged by the hurricane and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott predicts the ultimate cost will reach upwards of $150 billion US.

However, international trade lawyer Mark Warner says using Hurricane Harvey to pressure the U.S. to solve the softwood dispute would be crass and likely will not have any impact because the situation is being driven by politics.

In the spring, the US Department of Commerce accused Canada of subsidizing its industry and slapped import tariffs averaging nearly 30% on Canadian softwood, but it recently delayed final rulings on the issue while the two countries try to negotiate a settlement.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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