Legislation passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives would end “normal trade relations” with Russia and have a long-lasting trade impact if the proposed 50% tariffs on imports of birch plywood were to be put into effect. Of course, the U.S. Senate would have to concur, and the President would have to sign it into law. In a statement, the Decorative Hardwoods Association said that this would create challenges for importers and potential opportunities for domestic manufacturers.
In 2021, Russia was the U.S. third-largest source of hardwood plywood imports, exceeding 567 million square feet and with a value of more than $334 million. In addition, more than 653 million square feet of birch plywood was imported from Vietnam, with the source of the birch veneers coming from Russian harvest logs.
Ten percent of U.S. hardwood plywood in 2019 was directly supplied by Russia. Indirectly, Russia may account for 20% of U.S. hardwood plywood consumption, as plywood manufactured by major producers like Vietnam and Indonesia may use logs harvested in Russian forests. Furthermore, Russian plywood may use illegal timber and be subject to penalties under the Lacey Act, says the Decorative Hardwoods Association.
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Raising import duty on birch plywood from Russia to 50% would create potential opportunities for U.S. producers