Sep 26, 2019

Trump trade war rebounds hard on America's lumber workers

Photo: Rnesto Benavides/AFP/Getty Images

Lumber mills in the U.S. have been a casualty of President Trump's trade war with China, as a significant dip in demand has pushed hardwood lumber prices down, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Chinese buyers were critical for lumber after the 2008 financial crisis, as American construction and furniture production dropped. Now, Beijing's retaliatory tariffs on as much as 25% of lumber and wood imports are draining the U.S. industry.

By the numbers: The percentage of American hardwood exports to China dropped from a peak 54.19% in 2017 to 49.5% in 2018, according to the Department of Agriculture.

  • By this year, that number dropped to 41.34%.
  • As of August, lumber prices fell 20% from the previous year.
  • Other countries are reaping the benefits of the American market's downfall. Russia and Gabon now make up 17% of imports by value, up from 12% through July of 2018.

The Trump administration and Congress have met with industry leaders who are pushing for comparable assistance to what American farmers have received since the trade war began.

  • But the Department of Commerce indicated it has no procedure for distributing such aid, according to the WSJ.
  • “There is no question that these tariffs have virtually destroyed a segment of our industry,” said Steven Anthony, president of Anthony Timberlands.

What's next: The Journal said some companies are pushing U.S. buyers to purchase more hardwood products to make up for the losses.

  • Jim Hourdequin, CEO of Lyme Timber Co., presented an idea: A marketing push similar to the "Got Milk?" ads that the dairy industry famously produced in the 1990s.

Go deeper: The market wants a U.S.-China trade deal

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.6 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,900 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,498,849 — Total deaths: 346,306 — Total recoveries — 2,233,180Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,662,768 — Total deaths: 98,223 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

LATAM Airlines files for U.S. chapter 11 bankruptcy

A LATAM air attendant aboard one of the company's planes in March. Photo: Kike Calvo/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

LATAM Airlines Group SA said in a statement early Tuesday the firm and its affiliates in in the United States, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

Why it matters: Latam is Latin America's largest airline and its shareholders include Delta Air Lines. CEO Roberto Alvo noted in the statement the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the airline industry.