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U.S. Consumer groups representing 95 percent of the domestic consumption of softwood lumber today criticized the Commerce Department for what it calls a "premature and totally inappropriate" decision to issue a preliminary determination that there are export subsidies on Canadian softwood lumber, and that it found critical circumstances that would warrant imposing retroactive duties. A result of the decision will be the application of retroactive duties on Canadian lumber imports to the U.S. Commerce today said it had found evidence that imports from Canada increased enough to be a threat to domestic lumber mills, but U.S. consumer groups believe the import data has been inappropriately used. The trade action, along with other protectionist measures sought by the U.S. forestry sector through allegations of dumping of Canadian lumber into the U.S. market, could result in imposing a tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada of 19.3 percent, which the consumer groups say will be passed on to U.S. consumers. Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a group of 15 major trade associations and companies opposing any new trade restraints or negotiations to restrict Canadian softwood lumber imports, said that the number assigned by Commerce, as well as the initial U.S. producers' request for the imposition of countervailing duties of 40 percent, are both "totally ludicrous." "Clearly 19.3 percent is too much; the number should be zero," she added. "U.S. consumers deserve free trade without any new trade restraints. We are hopeful that a fair process at Commerce will end up considering consumer interests as more significant than those of a small number of U.S. protectionist companies that want to penalize consumers who ultimately pay the cost." Petniunas also said: "It is unconscionable to even think that U.S. importers will absorb the tariffs. Everyone knows they get passed on to the consumer. And, the price of U.S. lumber also goes up accordingly, resulting in profits to the forestry companies. The ultimate victim is the U.S. consumer." "We also believe that critical circumstances cannot be proven nor legally imposed," said Petniunas. "To have critical circumstances, Commerce must show that the imports have increased more than 15 percent, year over year. Our information, which comes from numbers released by the Department of Commerce itself, July 27, shows that that imports increased slightly over 11 percent. Everyone knows that lumber sales increase in the second quarter when more construction of new homes begins." "We believe that a careful analysis will show that there is no factual basis, other than pure political pressure from a handful of U.S. forestry companies, for Commerce to impose what will amount to a hidden tax on all lumber used in homebuilding in the U.S. This penalizes consumers and hurts housing affordability," Petniunas added. She also said consumer groups believe that the duty levels calculated in the preliminary determination and critical circumstance decisions will be eventually reversed because they are not warranted in this case. A final determination would be expected in late September. The antidumping preliminary decision is also expected in September, or in December if the cases are aligned. Consumers believe dumping allegations are unsustainable. U.S. producers have asked for 38 percent duties for dumping allegations which, if added to the 19.3 percent announced today, would put a tax of 75.3 percent on vital Canadian softwood lumber purchased in the U.S. "If the laws are applied in conformity with WTO and NAFTA requirements, Commerce cannot find that increased imports or that export subsidies exist to warrant putting countervailing duties on the backs of consumers." Under trade rules, determining critical circumstances is usually announced as part of a preliminary determination that Commerce has found that exports have increased, and that there is evidence of export subsidies and dumping. Critical circumstances would apply the duties retroactively 90 days from the date the preliminary determination of subsidization or dumping is published in the Federal Register. "A major fact that is being missed in all of this is that the southern yellow pine that U.S. companies want to protect is not a substitute for spruce pine fir from Canada," Petniunas added. "How can you pose a threat to an industry when the products are so different in their characteristics and uses in housing construction?" More than a dozen consumer group representatives testified before the International Trade Commission in April that "a stick is not a stick," and that if they cannot get Canadian softwood, they will turn to other countries that produce spruce pine fir since one is not a substitute for the other. There are no restrictions on how much spruce pine fir can be imported from other countries; the restrictions have only applied to Canada. In July, more than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress jointly sent a letter to President George W. Bush, urging him to assure that the Administration will protect the interests of consumers and workers from potentially onerous duties being requested by U.S. lumber producers seeking to limit the amount of lumber imported from Canada. They called for an open and fair process by Commerce in making any determinations. "It is essential that these cases be handled in a fair and transparent manner, with the interests of U.S. homebuyers and lumber users given due consideration as to other parties," the Members of Congress urged. Duties being sought by some U.S. producers could raise the cost of a typical new home anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. U.S. Census Bureau data have shown that a price hike of such magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year, depriving them of the American dream of home ownership. These costs significantly impact lower income, retiring senior citizens and first time homebuyers. "Clearly, the economic health of this nation relies, in part, on a strong housing market, the letter continues. "Creating arbitrary trade restrictions could weaken consumer confidence and have far reaching effects on this sector of our economy." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and workers in industries such as wood pallet manufacturers, window frame and bed makers. More than 6 million workers are associated with the consumers of lumber and outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. "If Commerce sees this as a jobs protection issue, it clearly has to look at the jobs associated with the consumers of lumber which is significantly greater throughout all 50 states," Petniunas said.

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Washington Deadline

BY U.S. Consumer Groups Call Commerce Decision to Impose Duties On Canadian Softwood Lumber 'Premature and Inappropriate'

U.S. Consumer groups representing 95 percent of the domestic consumption of softwood lumber today criticized the Commerce Department for what it calls a "premature and totally inappropriate" decision to issue a preliminary determination that there are export subsidies on Canadian softwood lumber, and that it found critical circumstances that would warrant imposing retroactive duties. A result of the decision will be the application of retroactive duties on Canadian lumber imports to the U.S. Commerce today said it had found evidence that imports from Canada increased enough to be a threat to domestic lumber mills, but U.S. consumer groups believe the import data has been inappropriately used. The trade action, along with other protectionist measures sought by the U.S. forestry sector through allegations of dumping of Canadian lumber into the U.S. market, could result in imposing a tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada of 19.3 percent, which the consumer groups say will be passed on to U.S. consumers. Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a group of 15 major trade associations and companies opposing any new trade restraints or negotiations to restrict Canadian softwood lumber imports, said that the number assigned by Commerce, as well as the initial U.S. producers' request for the imposition of countervailing duties of 40 percent, are both "totally ludicrous." "Clearly 19.3 percent is too much; the number should be zero," she added. "U.S. consumers deserve free trade without any new trade restraints. We are hopeful that a fair process at Commerce will end up considering consumer interests as more significant than those of a small number of U.S. protectionist companies that want to penalize consumers who ultimately pay the cost." Petniunas also said: "It is unconscionable to even think that U.S. importers will absorb the tariffs. Everyone knows they get passed on to the consumer. And, the price of U.S. lumber also goes up accordingly, resulting in profits to the forestry companies. The ultimate victim is the U.S. consumer." "We also believe that critical circumstances cannot be proven nor legally imposed," said Petniunas. "To have critical circumstances, Commerce must show that the imports have increased more than 15 percent, year over year. Our information, which comes from numbers released by the Department of Commerce itself, July 27, shows that that imports increased slightly over 11 percent. Everyone knows that lumber sales increase in the second quarter when more construction of new homes begins." "We believe that a careful analysis will show that there is no factual basis, other than pure political pressure from a handful of U.S. forestry companies, for Commerce to impose what will amount to a hidden tax on all lumber used in homebuilding in the U.S. This penalizes consumers and hurts housing affordability," Petniunas added. She also said consumer groups believe that the duty levels calculated in the preliminary determination and critical circumstance decisions will be eventually reversed because they are not warranted in this case. A final determination would be expected in late September. The antidumping preliminary decision is also expected in September, or in December if the cases are aligned. Consumers believe dumping allegations are unsustainable. U.S. producers have asked for 38 percent duties for dumping allegations which, if added to the 19.3 percent announced today, would put a tax of 75.3 percent on vital Canadian softwood lumber purchased in the U.S. "If the laws are applied in conformity with WTO and NAFTA requirements, Commerce cannot find that increased imports or that export subsidies exist to warrant putting countervailing duties on the backs of consumers." Under trade rules, determining critical circumstances is usually announced as part of a preliminary determination that Commerce has found that exports have increased, and that there is evidence of export subsidies and dumping. Critical circumstances would apply the duties retroactively 90 days from the date the preliminary determination of subsidization or dumping is published in the Federal Register. "A major fact that is being missed in all of this is that the southern yellow pine that U.S. companies want to protect is not a substitute for spruce pine fir from Canada," Petniunas added. "How can you pose a threat to an industry when the products are so different in their characteristics and uses in housing construction?" More than a dozen consumer group representatives testified before the International Trade Commission in April that "a stick is not a stick," and that if they cannot get Canadian softwood, they will turn to other countries that produce spruce pine fir since one is not a substitute for the other. There are no restrictions on how much spruce pine fir can be imported from other countries; the restrictions have only applied to Canada. In July, more than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress jointly sent a letter to President George W. Bush, urging him to assure that the Administration will protect the interests of consumers and workers from potentially onerous duties being requested by U.S. lumber producers seeking to limit the amount of lumber imported from Canada. They called for an open and fair process by Commerce in making any determinations. "It is essential that these cases be handled in a fair and transparent manner, with the interests of U.S. homebuyers and lumber users given due consideration as to other parties," the Members of Congress urged. Duties being sought by some U.S. producers could raise the cost of a typical new home anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. U.S. Census Bureau data have shown that a price hike of such magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year, depriving them of the American dream of home ownership. These costs significantly impact lower income, retiring senior citizens and first time homebuyers. "Clearly, the economic health of this nation relies, in part, on a strong housing market, the letter continues. "Creating arbitrary trade restrictions could weaken consumer confidence and have far reaching effects on this sector of our economy." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and workers in industries such as wood pallet manufacturers, window frame and bed makers. More than 6 million workers are associated with the consumers of lumber and outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. "If Commerce sees this as a jobs protection issue, it clearly has to look at the jobs associated with the consumers of lumber which is significantly greater throughout all 50 states," Petniunas said.

08/10/2001
G-8 Leaders Ignore Real Problems

Copley News Service, 07/24/2001 While the leaders of the major industrial countries, the so-called G-8 nations, fiddled in Genoa, Italy, the world economy was going into a deep freeze. Global trade is shrinking. A deflating dollar is squeezing international economic activity and putting currencies around the world at risk. The IMF continues to force poisonous tax increases and austerity measures down the throats of floundering economies like Argentina.

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Press Release

G-8 Leaders Ignore Real Problems

Copley News Service, 07/24/2001 While the leaders of the major industrial countries, the so-called G-8 nations, fiddled in Genoa, Italy, the world economy was going into a deep freeze. Global trade is shrinking. A deflating dollar is squeezing international economic activity and putting currencies around the world at risk. The IMF continues to force poisonous tax increases and austerity measures down the throats of floundering economies like Argentina.

07/24/2001
More Than 100 Senate, House Members Urge Bush to Protect Consumer Interests

Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress jointly sent a letter today to President George W. Bush, with House and Senate resolutions signed by more than 100 members, urging him to assure that the Administration will protect the interests of consumers and workers from potentially onerous duties being requested by U.S. lumber producers seeking to limit the amount of lumber imported from Canada. The letter applauded the Administration for letting the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expire on March 31. That five-year agreement set quotas limiting the amount of lumber allowed into the U.S. from Canada. Shortly after it expired, the domestic lumber producers filed requests to the Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission asking for countervailing duty and antidumping tariffs that, if imposed, could amount to a 78 percent tax on consumers on every piece of Canadian lumber used in U.S. homebuilding and remodeling. "It is essential that these cases be handled in a fair and transparent manner, with the interests of U.S. homebuyers and lumber users given due consideration as those of the other parties," the letter urged. "We are concerned with the potential damage such duties would impose on our economy," the letter said. "They could raise the cost of a typical new home anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. U.S. Census Bureau data have shown that a price hike of such magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year, depriving them of the American dream of home ownership." The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives led by Senators Don Nickles (R-OK) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the original co-sponsors of the two resolutions, S. Con. Res. 4 and H. Con. Res. 45, which were included with the letter. The resolutions supported the March ending of the SLA, and urges that there not be any new trade restraints on lumber from Canada that would continue to price families out of the housing market, mostly first time homeowners, elderly and those purchasing manufactured housing. "Clearly, the economic health of this nation relies, in part, on a strong housing market, the letter continues. "Creating arbitrary trade restrictions could weaken consumer confidence and have far reaching effects on this sector of our economy." "President Bush has made strong statements supporting the important economic benefits that come from free trade and open markets, and has spoken equally strongly about the need for more affordable housing," said Susan Petniunas, coordinator of the alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). "Imposing such taxes on softwood lumber is totally counter to those positions. We are optimistic that American consumer interests, when fairly considered, can prevail." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and workers in industries such as wood pallet manufacturers, window frame and bed makers. Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. The ACAH is an alliance of 15-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

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More Than 100 Senate, House Members Urge Bush to Protect Consumer Interests

Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress jointly sent a letter today to President George W. Bush, with House and Senate resolutions signed by more than 100 members, urging him to assure that the Administration will protect the interests of consumers and workers from potentially onerous duties being requested by U.S. lumber producers seeking to limit the amount of lumber imported from Canada. The letter applauded the Administration for letting the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expire on March 31. That five-year agreement set quotas limiting the amount of lumber allowed into the U.S. from Canada. Shortly after it expired, the domestic lumber producers filed requests to the Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission asking for countervailing duty and antidumping tariffs that, if imposed, could amount to a 78 percent tax on consumers on every piece of Canadian lumber used in U.S. homebuilding and remodeling. "It is essential that these cases be handled in a fair and transparent manner, with the interests of U.S. homebuyers and lumber users given due consideration as those of the other parties," the letter urged. "We are concerned with the potential damage such duties would impose on our economy," the letter said. "They could raise the cost of a typical new home anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. U.S. Census Bureau data have shown that a price hike of such magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year, depriving them of the American dream of home ownership." The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives led by Senators Don Nickles (R-OK) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the original co-sponsors of the two resolutions, S. Con. Res. 4 and H. Con. Res. 45, which were included with the letter. The resolutions supported the March ending of the SLA, and urges that there not be any new trade restraints on lumber from Canada that would continue to price families out of the housing market, mostly first time homeowners, elderly and those purchasing manufactured housing. "Clearly, the economic health of this nation relies, in part, on a strong housing market, the letter continues. "Creating arbitrary trade restrictions could weaken consumer confidence and have far reaching effects on this sector of our economy." "President Bush has made strong statements supporting the important economic benefits that come from free trade and open markets, and has spoken equally strongly about the need for more affordable housing," said Susan Petniunas, coordinator of the alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). "Imposing such taxes on softwood lumber is totally counter to those positions. We are optimistic that American consumer interests, when fairly considered, can prevail." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and workers in industries such as wood pallet manufacturers, window frame and bed makers. Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. The ACAH is an alliance of 15-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

07/19/2001
. Consumer Reps Meet with U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Celucci, Trade Minister Pettigrew, MPs, Urging No New Lumber Trade …

Several representatives of U.S. consumer interests are in Ottawa today to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Celucci, Canadian trade officials including Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew, and Parliamentary leaders, urging that Canada resist negotiating a new trade restraint on softwood lumber exports to the U.S. The delegation represents the 15-member alliance, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The delegation emphasized U.S. consumer support for moving the two countries to free trade in lumber and said that there are more than 100 members of the U.S. Congress who are expressing their support for U.S. consumer interests instead of the protectionist interests of the U.S. industry. Some U.S. forestry companies have filed petitions asking for anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian exports of up to 78 percent. These petitions are under review with preliminary decisions expected by the end of the month. "It is important for Canadians to know that U.S. consumer groups and over 100 members of the Senate and House of Representatives oppose protectionist duties, taxes or quotas on lumber," said Bobby Rayburn, a homebuilder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president/secretary of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) that has 203,000 member firms throughout the U.S. "The trade restraints over the past 20 years have caused major harm to U.S. consumers, especially young and minority households struggling to purchase their first home." Barry Rutenberg, who chairs the NAHB Materials Task Force, and operates his construction company in Florida, also participated in the meetings.

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. Consumer Reps Meet with U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Celucci, Trade Minister Pettigrew, MPs, Urging No New Lumber Trade …

Several representatives of U.S. consumer interests are in Ottawa today to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Paul Celucci, Canadian trade officials including Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew, and Parliamentary leaders, urging that Canada resist negotiating a new trade restraint on softwood lumber exports to the U.S. The delegation represents the 15-member alliance, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The delegation emphasized U.S. consumer support for moving the two countries to free trade in lumber and said that there are more than 100 members of the U.S. Congress who are expressing their support for U.S. consumer interests instead of the protectionist interests of the U.S. industry. Some U.S. forestry companies have filed petitions asking for anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian exports of up to 78 percent. These petitions are under review with preliminary decisions expected by the end of the month. "It is important for Canadians to know that U.S. consumer groups and over 100 members of the Senate and House of Representatives oppose protectionist duties, taxes or quotas on lumber," said Bobby Rayburn, a homebuilder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president/secretary of the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) that has 203,000 member firms throughout the U.S. "The trade restraints over the past 20 years have caused major harm to U.S. consumers, especially young and minority households struggling to purchase their first home." Barry Rutenberg, who chairs the NAHB Materials Task Force, and operates his construction company in Florida, also participated in the meetings.

07/18/2001
Consumer Alliance Urges Congress to Support Affordable Homes, Kill Proposed Hidden Lumber Taxes

A consumer alliance representing 95 percent of all of the lumber use and consumption in the U.S., today appealed to members of Congress to block support for a house bill introduced recently that would force a hidden tax on all softwood lumber purchased in the U.S. that comes from Canada. The bill, H. R. 2181, would impose mandatory trade restraints in the form of quotas and tariff surcharges on all shipments of lumber from Canada into the U.S., similar to the Softwood Lumber Agreement that expired March 31. This amounts to an additional consumer tax on all softwood lumber used in home construction or remodeling, according to the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), in a letter to all members of the House of Representatives. The alliance said that this proposed protectionist legislation only continues to hurt consumers, and will further reduce the level of affordable homes across America. "The U.S. producers want to protect their markets and keep prices of softwood lumber artificially high by having the government impose a hidden tax on every purchase of lumber made in the U.S.," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH, an alliance of 15 leading consumer and lumber user member organizations. "This proposed legislation is the most recent attack by lumber producers on consumers. After the expiration of the five-year quota agreement limiting softwood imports from Canada, the U.S. producers filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions that would impose a tax of up to 78 percent on all softwood lumber imported into the U.S. "Unfortunately, those proposed duties would add up to $4,000 to the cost of a new home, and, according to calculations used by the U.S. Census Bureau, would knock 1.2 million families out of the housing market -- they could not qualify for mortgages," Petniunas said. "This would dramatically impact first time homebuyers and buyers of manufactured housing, and be counter to the objective of building more affordable housing across our country." H.R. 2181 was introduced by representatives, most of whom come from lumber producing states. "This parochial, protectionist viewpoint does not take into consideration that the jobs in homebuilding, selling and working with lumber, and downstream users of lumber such as window and bed frame manufacturers, outnumber the jobs in producing lumber in the U.S. by 25 to 1," Petniunas said. "It is time that the consumer gets represented, and that affordable housing becomes a priority." Petniunas also pointed out that "a stick is not a stick. Southern Yellow Pine produced in the south is not a substitute in housing construction for Canadian Spruce Pine Fir. These two species are not interchangeable. They do not compete. Both have their own uses in home construction, and homebuyers and remodelers should not be penalized by artificial trade barriers such as those proposed in H.R. 2181." She also said that trying to roll back imports to levels at the end of 1995, as proposed in the bill, "fails to take into consideration the growth in U.S. demand for softwood lumber, the growth in the housing market where most of it is used, and the reduction in availability of such lumber in the U.S." The ACAH is an alliance of 15-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

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Consumer Alliance Urges Congress to Support Affordable Homes, Kill Proposed Hidden Lumber Taxes

A consumer alliance representing 95 percent of all of the lumber use and consumption in the U.S., today appealed to members of Congress to block support for a house bill introduced recently that would force a hidden tax on all softwood lumber purchased in the U.S. that comes from Canada. The bill, H. R. 2181, would impose mandatory trade restraints in the form of quotas and tariff surcharges on all shipments of lumber from Canada into the U.S., similar to the Softwood Lumber Agreement that expired March 31. This amounts to an additional consumer tax on all softwood lumber used in home construction or remodeling, according to the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), in a letter to all members of the House of Representatives. The alliance said that this proposed protectionist legislation only continues to hurt consumers, and will further reduce the level of affordable homes across America. "The U.S. producers want to protect their markets and keep prices of softwood lumber artificially high by having the government impose a hidden tax on every purchase of lumber made in the U.S.," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH, an alliance of 15 leading consumer and lumber user member organizations. "This proposed legislation is the most recent attack by lumber producers on consumers. After the expiration of the five-year quota agreement limiting softwood imports from Canada, the U.S. producers filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions that would impose a tax of up to 78 percent on all softwood lumber imported into the U.S. "Unfortunately, those proposed duties would add up to $4,000 to the cost of a new home, and, according to calculations used by the U.S. Census Bureau, would knock 1.2 million families out of the housing market -- they could not qualify for mortgages," Petniunas said. "This would dramatically impact first time homebuyers and buyers of manufactured housing, and be counter to the objective of building more affordable housing across our country." H.R. 2181 was introduced by representatives, most of whom come from lumber producing states. "This parochial, protectionist viewpoint does not take into consideration that the jobs in homebuilding, selling and working with lumber, and downstream users of lumber such as window and bed frame manufacturers, outnumber the jobs in producing lumber in the U.S. by 25 to 1," Petniunas said. "It is time that the consumer gets represented, and that affordable housing becomes a priority." Petniunas also pointed out that "a stick is not a stick. Southern Yellow Pine produced in the south is not a substitute in housing construction for Canadian Spruce Pine Fir. These two species are not interchangeable. They do not compete. Both have their own uses in home construction, and homebuyers and remodelers should not be penalized by artificial trade barriers such as those proposed in H.R. 2181." She also said that trying to roll back imports to levels at the end of 1995, as proposed in the bill, "fails to take into consideration the growth in U.S. demand for softwood lumber, the growth in the housing market where most of it is used, and the reduction in availability of such lumber in the U.S." The ACAH is an alliance of 15-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

06/28/2001
Paul Beckner Letter to House of Representatives to Support Trade Promotion Authority

Dear Representative: Free trade between nations is the lifeblood of economic growth. Industry and agriculturalists benefit from an expanded market for their goods, while consumers enjoy a greater and more diverse supply of goods. For the past 17 years, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) has been the voice of consumers for free trade. We believe that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a power the president absolutely must have to open borders and benefit consumers.

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Press Release

Paul Beckner Letter to House of Representatives to Support Trade Promotion Authority

Dear Representative: Free trade between nations is the lifeblood of economic growth. Industry and agriculturalists benefit from an expanded market for their goods, while consumers enjoy a greater and more diverse supply of goods. For the past 17 years, Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) has been the voice of consumers for free trade. We believe that Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a power the president absolutely must have to open borders and benefit consumers.

06/21/2001
Miller And Miller Introduce Legislation Endorsed By Sugar Reform Coalition

Reps Dan Miller And George Miller today introduced legislation intended to reform the Federal sugar program. The bill is similar to HR 1850 introduced by Dan Miller in the last Congress, which gained 73 cosponsors but failed to make it out of committee. The legislation would gradually reduce the sugar program's price support until it was eliminated in the year 2004. It would require that all loans made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sugar producers must be repaid. Finally, it would assure an adequate supply of sugar to the U.S. market at prices no higher than the world price of sugar or the loan rate in effect for that year. The Coalition for Sugar Reform (CSR) , an "organization of 18 consumer, taxpayer advocacy, environmental and business groups" endorsed the legislation. Larry Graham, Chairman of the CSR Steering Committee and President of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, said that any reform of the sugar program "should contain four key parts: first, reform should secure adequate supplies for consumers, industrial users and cane refiners; second, reform should accommodate our present and future international trade obligations that provide market access for imports; third, reform should remove the current economic incentives for overproduction; and finally, reform should allow market prices to trade below support levels when market forces dictate." The membership of the Coalition for Sugar Reform includes: American Bakers Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers for World Trade, Citizens Against Government Waste, Everglades Trust, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Independent Bakers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Audubon Society, National Confectioners Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, United States Cane Sugar Refiners' Association, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and World Wildlife Fund.

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Miller And Miller Introduce Legislation Endorsed By Sugar Reform Coalition

Reps Dan Miller And George Miller today introduced legislation intended to reform the Federal sugar program. The bill is similar to HR 1850 introduced by Dan Miller in the last Congress, which gained 73 cosponsors but failed to make it out of committee. The legislation would gradually reduce the sugar program's price support until it was eliminated in the year 2004. It would require that all loans made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sugar producers must be repaid. Finally, it would assure an adequate supply of sugar to the U.S. market at prices no higher than the world price of sugar or the loan rate in effect for that year. The Coalition for Sugar Reform (CSR) , an "organization of 18 consumer, taxpayer advocacy, environmental and business groups" endorsed the legislation. Larry Graham, Chairman of the CSR Steering Committee and President of the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, said that any reform of the sugar program "should contain four key parts: first, reform should secure adequate supplies for consumers, industrial users and cane refiners; second, reform should accommodate our present and future international trade obligations that provide market access for imports; third, reform should remove the current economic incentives for overproduction; and finally, reform should allow market prices to trade below support levels when market forces dictate." The membership of the Coalition for Sugar Reform includes: American Bakers Association, Americans for Tax Reform, Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers for World Trade, Citizens Against Government Waste, Everglades Trust, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Independent Bakers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Audubon Society, National Confectioners Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, United States Cane Sugar Refiners' Association, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and World Wildlife Fund.

06/06/2001
Government Urged Not to Ignore -and to Value Fairly -Interests of U.S. Consumers, Workers as Canadian Lumber Trade Restr…

Even though the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today voted to allow countervailing duty and antidumping petitions on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U.S. to move forward, the concerns of millions of American consumers and workers must be the primary concern as the U.S. government deals with antidumping and countervailing duty issues in the coming months, said the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 15-member alliance representing consumer groups, home builders and lumber dealers. "We are confident that in the long run the concerns of American consumers and more than 6 million U.S. workers in the homebuilding and related sectors will be considered," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "If they are fairly evaluated, any attempts to impose future trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber will end, and there will be free trade between our two countries for these products. Today's decision to continue the investigations is unfortunate." Two days after the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expired on March 31, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm representing some U.S. lumber producers, filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions. If the orders are imposed, they would result in a hidden tax on lumber amounting to up to 78 percent. Today's preliminary action by the ITC allows the investigations to move forward and receive further consideration by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (in the final phase of the Commission's injury investigation). "U.S. trade law sets a very low threshold for cases to move on to the next phase of consideration. While we are disappointed with the outcome, it was not unanticipated," Petniunas said. "We believe that it was a wrong decision, however." "The expiration of the SLA was a tremendous boost to the interests of American consumers and workers," said Petniunas. "It's essential that those interests are fairly evaluated and receive due consideration as this case moves forward." If orders are imposed, they could raise the cost of a typical new home by $2,000-$4,000, according to the ACAH. U. S. Census Bureau calculations indicate that an increase of this magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year. "Such action would have the most severe impact on the young, the elderly, and the less-wealthy," said Petniunas. "These people are likely to be deprived of the American dream of home ownership if these petitions are upheld." ACAH also explained that the investigations could impact thousands of American jobs. "U.S. workers who use softwood lumber in their employment outnumber those in the United States who supply lumber by 25 to 1," Petniunas said. "Placing a duty or tax on softwood lumber coming into the United States will negatively impact these workers and their families." In addition to the damage such results would have on individuals, enactment is likely to harm the national economy. "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee that slowing economic growth could spawn protectionist measures in the form of countervailing and antidumping suits that are 'unwise and surely self-defeating,'" said Petniunas. "The ITC in its final ruling and the Commerce Department will serve the interests of U.S. consumers, workers, and the national economy by rejecting the protectionist arguments in these petitions," Petniunas predicted. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

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Government Urged Not to Ignore -and to Value Fairly -Interests of U.S. Consumers, Workers as Canadian Lumber Trade Restr…

Even though the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today voted to allow countervailing duty and antidumping petitions on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U.S. to move forward, the concerns of millions of American consumers and workers must be the primary concern as the U.S. government deals with antidumping and countervailing duty issues in the coming months, said the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 15-member alliance representing consumer groups, home builders and lumber dealers. "We are confident that in the long run the concerns of American consumers and more than 6 million U.S. workers in the homebuilding and related sectors will be considered," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "If they are fairly evaluated, any attempts to impose future trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber will end, and there will be free trade between our two countries for these products. Today's decision to continue the investigations is unfortunate." Two days after the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expired on March 31, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm representing some U.S. lumber producers, filed countervailing duty and antidumping petitions. If the orders are imposed, they would result in a hidden tax on lumber amounting to up to 78 percent. Today's preliminary action by the ITC allows the investigations to move forward and receive further consideration by the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (in the final phase of the Commission's injury investigation). "U.S. trade law sets a very low threshold for cases to move on to the next phase of consideration. While we are disappointed with the outcome, it was not unanticipated," Petniunas said. "We believe that it was a wrong decision, however." "The expiration of the SLA was a tremendous boost to the interests of American consumers and workers," said Petniunas. "It's essential that those interests are fairly evaluated and receive due consideration as this case moves forward." If orders are imposed, they could raise the cost of a typical new home by $2,000-$4,000, according to the ACAH. U. S. Census Bureau calculations indicate that an increase of this magnitude could drive nearly 1.2 million households out of the housing market each year. "Such action would have the most severe impact on the young, the elderly, and the less-wealthy," said Petniunas. "These people are likely to be deprived of the American dream of home ownership if these petitions are upheld." ACAH also explained that the investigations could impact thousands of American jobs. "U.S. workers who use softwood lumber in their employment outnumber those in the United States who supply lumber by 25 to 1," Petniunas said. "Placing a duty or tax on softwood lumber coming into the United States will negatively impact these workers and their families." In addition to the damage such results would have on individuals, enactment is likely to harm the national economy. "Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee that slowing economic growth could spawn protectionist measures in the form of countervailing and antidumping suits that are 'unwise and surely self-defeating,'" said Petniunas. "The ITC in its final ruling and the Commerce Department will serve the interests of U.S. consumers, workers, and the national economy by rejecting the protectionist arguments in these petitions," Petniunas predicted. ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

05/16/2001
Petitions to Restrict Canadian Lumber Imports Would Harm U. S. Consumers, Workers

WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/--More than 20 home builders, lumber dealers and other supporters of free trade and consumer interests testify tomorrow before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) here, calling for the ITC to reject petitions that would impose a duty of as much as 78 percent on Canadian lumber coming into the United States. After the April 1 expiration of the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA), the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, filed a countervailing duty petition on April 2 for an approximate 40 percent duty and an anti-dumping duty between 28 and 38 percent. "Those presenting oral and written testimony before the ITC come from all regions of the country, representing the broad cross section of Americans who were harmed by the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada that expired April 1, and would continue to be hurt even more by these petitions," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The ACAH is an alliance of 14-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. "Acceptance of the concepts in these petitions would be the equivalent of a 78 percent 'hidden' tax on consumers wanting to purchase a new home, remodel their home, or even buy a new bed," Petniunas continued. "That is ludicrous." More than 20 home builders and lumber dealers will present oral testimony or written statements tomorrow to the ITC, all opposing them. The petitions before the ITC would increase the cost of a new home by approximately $ 2,000-$ 4,000. Based on earlier calculations by the U.S. Census Bureau, a price hike of such a magnitude could knock as many as 1.2 million households out of the market for purchasing a new home. "The ITC must listen to the needs of American consumers and workers, not just the desires of a few wealthy lumber mill owners," Petniunas said. "This is an issue that will impact home buyers and workers and their families all across the country. The impact on the economy could be disastrous." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and industries like window and bed makers. Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified earlier this month before the Senate Finance Committee that slowing economic growth could spawn protectionist measures in the form of countervailing and anti-dumping suits that are "unwise and surely self-defeating." "These forms of protection have often been imposed under the label of protecting 'fair trade,' but often times are just simple guises for inhibiting competition," Greenspan told the Committee. "If we were to move in the direction of protection, that could create some very significant problems for the American economy." According to ACAH, action urged in these petitions would have a number of negative impacts:

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Petitions to Restrict Canadian Lumber Imports Would Harm U. S. Consumers, Workers

WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/--More than 20 home builders, lumber dealers and other supporters of free trade and consumer interests testify tomorrow before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) here, calling for the ITC to reject petitions that would impose a duty of as much as 78 percent on Canadian lumber coming into the United States. After the April 1 expiration of the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA), the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, filed a countervailing duty petition on April 2 for an approximate 40 percent duty and an anti-dumping duty between 28 and 38 percent. "Those presenting oral and written testimony before the ITC come from all regions of the country, representing the broad cross section of Americans who were harmed by the Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada that expired April 1, and would continue to be hurt even more by these petitions," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The ACAH is an alliance of 14-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. "Acceptance of the concepts in these petitions would be the equivalent of a 78 percent 'hidden' tax on consumers wanting to purchase a new home, remodel their home, or even buy a new bed," Petniunas continued. "That is ludicrous." More than 20 home builders and lumber dealers will present oral testimony or written statements tomorrow to the ITC, all opposing them. The petitions before the ITC would increase the cost of a new home by approximately $ 2,000-$ 4,000. Based on earlier calculations by the U.S. Census Bureau, a price hike of such a magnitude could knock as many as 1.2 million households out of the market for purchasing a new home. "The ITC must listen to the needs of American consumers and workers, not just the desires of a few wealthy lumber mill owners," Petniunas said. "This is an issue that will impact home buyers and workers and their families all across the country. The impact on the economy could be disastrous." Approximately six million U.S. workers are involved in lumber-using businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers, and industries like window and bed makers. Workers associated with the consumers of lumber outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan testified earlier this month before the Senate Finance Committee that slowing economic growth could spawn protectionist measures in the form of countervailing and anti-dumping suits that are "unwise and surely self-defeating." "These forms of protection have often been imposed under the label of protecting 'fair trade,' but often times are just simple guises for inhibiting competition," Greenspan told the Committee. "If we were to move in the direction of protection, that could create some very significant problems for the American economy." According to ACAH, action urged in these petitions would have a number of negative impacts:

04/22/2001
Consumer Group Applauds Expiration of Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA)

The American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 14-member alliance of consumer groups, home builders, and lumber dealers, applauded the U.S. and Canadian governments for allowing the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA) to expire at midnight last night. However, ACAH members today called for vigilance against any new proposals that would harm American consumers. "The quota system under the SLA amounted to a hidden lumber tax on U.S. lumber consumers and lumber-using industries. Its demise is long overdue," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "However, we must be watchful in the that pressures from U.S. protectionist lumber producers on the Bush administration and Congress do not result in re-imposing yet another hidden tax on homebuyers and the U.S. consumer through some new trade restraint." "Unfortunately, we may face the inevitable uncertainty that will come if this issue is adjudicated by the International Trade Commission when U.S. lumber producers seek a countervailing duty (CVD) or other trade restraint," the ACAH said in a letter sent today to the President and Bush administration and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The ACAH believes that action under existing U.S. trade law is the only appropriate course for addressing the lumber industry's complaints. U.S. lumber producers have tried three times before to prove their case and such legal processes are a better and more fair option for consumers than arbitrary quotas, export taxes, or other such trade restraints. Due to the quota on Canadian lumber coming into the United States, the SLA raised the cost of a new home by about $1,000. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated a price increase of that magnitude results in approximately 300,000 families not qualifying for a mortgage each year. The consumer alliance called upon Senators and Representatives to continue to support two bipartisan resolutions urging free trade and no new trade restraint on lumber: H. Con. Res. 45 was introduced in the House by Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and now has approximately 75 co-sponsors; S. Con. Res. 4 has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate. These resolutions express Congressional support for free trade of softwood lumber between the United States and Canada, inclusion of all stakeholders in discussions regarding trade of softwood lumber, and a competitive North American market for softwood lumber," the letter read. "Further, these resolutions outline the negative impact of the SLA on housing affordability in America and that there should be no renegotiation of trade restraints -- it is time for free trade." "Softwood lumber has a huge impact on the U.S. economy. The home building sector is responsible for employing more than six million workers," the letter continues. "The economic health of this nation relies on a strong housing market and the ability to provide the American dream of home ownership. The ACAH encourages (members of Congress) to consider the needs of prospective homebuyers -- and those who are remodeling or adding to their homes-throughout the country on issues related to softwood lumber trade between the U.S." ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

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Consumer Group Applauds Expiration of Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA)

The American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 14-member alliance of consumer groups, home builders, and lumber dealers, applauded the U.S. and Canadian governments for allowing the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA) to expire at midnight last night. However, ACAH members today called for vigilance against any new proposals that would harm American consumers. "The quota system under the SLA amounted to a hidden lumber tax on U.S. lumber consumers and lumber-using industries. Its demise is long overdue," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "However, we must be watchful in the that pressures from U.S. protectionist lumber producers on the Bush administration and Congress do not result in re-imposing yet another hidden tax on homebuyers and the U.S. consumer through some new trade restraint." "Unfortunately, we may face the inevitable uncertainty that will come if this issue is adjudicated by the International Trade Commission when U.S. lumber producers seek a countervailing duty (CVD) or other trade restraint," the ACAH said in a letter sent today to the President and Bush administration and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The ACAH believes that action under existing U.S. trade law is the only appropriate course for addressing the lumber industry's complaints. U.S. lumber producers have tried three times before to prove their case and such legal processes are a better and more fair option for consumers than arbitrary quotas, export taxes, or other such trade restraints. Due to the quota on Canadian lumber coming into the United States, the SLA raised the cost of a new home by about $1,000. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated a price increase of that magnitude results in approximately 300,000 families not qualifying for a mortgage each year. The consumer alliance called upon Senators and Representatives to continue to support two bipartisan resolutions urging free trade and no new trade restraint on lumber: H. Con. Res. 45 was introduced in the House by Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and now has approximately 75 co-sponsors; S. Con. Res. 4 has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate. These resolutions express Congressional support for free trade of softwood lumber between the United States and Canada, inclusion of all stakeholders in discussions regarding trade of softwood lumber, and a competitive North American market for softwood lumber," the letter read. "Further, these resolutions outline the negative impact of the SLA on housing affordability in America and that there should be no renegotiation of trade restraints -- it is time for free trade." "Softwood lumber has a huge impact on the U.S. economy. The home building sector is responsible for employing more than six million workers," the letter continues. "The economic health of this nation relies on a strong housing market and the ability to provide the American dream of home ownership. The ACAH encourages (members of Congress) to consider the needs of prospective homebuyers -- and those who are remodeling or adding to their homes-throughout the country on issues related to softwood lumber trade between the U.S." ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass Retail Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

04/01/2001

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