Pennsylvania’s hardwoods industry stands to lose in trade disputes

  • Rachel McDevitt

(Harrisburg) — The commonwealth’s hardwoods industry stands to lose out in international trade disputes.

Pennsylvania’s forest products industry covers a range of business from logging to furniture to paper. It employs around 66-thousand people and directly contributes more than 21 billion dollars to the state’s economy each year, according to Wayne Bender, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council.

He told WITF’s Smart Talk that domestic demand for the state’s wood is down.

“China has become the major market, and China in 2017 was buying 47 percent of the wood that we were exporting from the state of Pennsylvania,” Bender said. “That’s more than the entire EU and Canada combined.”

Since the Trump Administration’s tariffs have gone into effect, Pennsylvania has seen a 30 percent decline in Chinese demand.

Bender said that’s driven prices down.

“And because of that, other markets are buying more of our lumber, so we actually in Pennsylvania have only decreased about nine percent in our hardwood exports,” he said.

The timber industry is also facing a threat from an invasive insect.

Agriculture officials are working to make sure the spotted lanternfly does not reach Pennsylvania’s hardwoods-rich northern tier.

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