A long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada over lumber pricing has flared up again. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Jan. 18 that he is seeking binding arbitration to settle a disagreement between the two countries over the pricing of British Columbia timber. Lumber produced from that timber is a key component in the construction of single-family housing. To try to resolve lumber-pricing disagreements that stretched back 20 years, the U.S. and Canada in 2006 signed a Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA). The pact set a price threshold at which limits would cease on Canadian lumber exports. A
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.