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U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Applaud WTO Decision Against Duties On Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports Essential for …
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U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Applaud WTO Decision Against Duties On Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports Essential for …

Consumer and business group representatives applauded today's preliminary ruling by a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel that countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department on Canadian softwood lumber imports should be overturned. A final WTO decision on the countervailing duties is expected next month and could be subject to three months of appeals. "This is a significant victory for consumers and affordable housing in the U.S.," said Susan Petniunas, a spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes, an alliance of 18 large national associations and companies. "The U.S. lumber companies once again have lost their argument that Canadian lumber is subsidized. We urge the Bush administration to accept this decision and to end its appeals and challenges in the WTO or in NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). The duties are totally unfair to consumers, and painful for home buyers." Canada has filed similar appeals against the duties with NAFTA, which is not expected to rule until next February. If allowed to stand, the countervailing duties, along with anti-dumping duties subject to a separate appeal, would average 27.2 percent and could add more than $1,000 to the cost of a new home, and price as many as 300,000 families out of the housing market. "While $1,000 may not sound like much to some people, for many families trying to buy a home for the first time, it can make a decisive difference between being able to qualify for a mortgage, or not," Petniunas said. "The time has come for the Administration to recognize that these duties hurt our need for affordable housing, and for jobs within lumber consuming industries." Because there are not enough trees available to produce lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America. The U.S. relies on Canada and other sources for approximately 37 percent of the lumber it needs. Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland and southern landowners, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department more than a year ago alleging that domestic lumber producers had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. The International Trade Commission approved the Commerce Department's action, and duties were imposed at the end of May. More than 110 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President Bush over the past year opposing duties and indicating their support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada. "Since 1983, some of the large U.S. producers and landowners have periodically charged Canada with subsidizing its lumber industry, and they have consistently lost when Canada has appealed preliminary decisions," Petniunas said. "We believe they will continue to fail on this round of reviews."

07/26/2002
If Pundits Were Farmers . . .
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Press Release

If Pundits Were Farmers . . .

ABSTRACT FROM THE NATIONAL REVIEW

06/18/2002
Big Mistake
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Press Release

Big Mistake

ABSTRACT: In “Big Mistake,” Murdock writes about the unintended consequences of Bush’s steel tariffs. While the tariffs have been a boon to inefficient U.S. steel companies, they have harmed dozens of other industries, such as shipping and manufacturing – not to mention consumers. “George W. Bush's cold-rolled capitulation is his presidency's biggest error,” Murdock writes. “It is openly political, nakedly statist and far left of Bill Clinton who ignored the steel industry's protectionist demands. Bush should acknowledge and reverse his mistake.”

06/18/2002
New Role Models for Africa
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Press Release

New Role Models for Africa

© 2002 Copley News Service, 6/7/2002

06/07/2002
U.S. Consumers to Pay as International Trade Commission Vote Opens Door to Impose Huge Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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U.S. Consumers to Pay as International Trade Commission Vote Opens Door to Impose Huge Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

Consumer groups said today's decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which found a "threat of injury" to U.S. forest producers from Canadian softwood lumber imports, is wrong, and cannot be sustained under NAFTA and World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The ITC decision will allow the U.S. Commerce Department to move forward later in May imposing countervailing and antidumping duties of approximately 27 percent. At the same time, the ITC denied U.S. producer claims that they had been "injured," which would have allowed retroactive imposition of duties. "It is very sad that a segment of U.S. lumber producers and landowners have been able to get our government to impose such a preposterous level of duties on American consumers," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 18 national organizations and companies which has been fighting the trade action. "This action is nothing less than a giveaway to U.S. lumber companies, imposed as a sales tax on U.S. consumers by our own government just because the ITC determined something bad might happen in the future," Petniunas added. If the entire 27 percent duties are reflected in U.S. prices, and depending on the lumber market, these duties could add between $1,000 and $1,500 to the cost of a new home, pricing as many as 300,000 to 450,000 families out of the housing market. They would not be able to qualify for mortgages. "While $1,500 may not sound like much to some people, for many first-time homeowners and seniors seeking to lower their housing costs in retirement, it is the difference between being able to buy a home for the first time, or not," she said. Bobby Rayburn, a homebuilder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president and treasurer of the National Association of Home Builders, said: "Over the past 20 years, independent review panels have evaluated Canada's timber pricing on three separate occasions. In each case in which it was taken to a final decision, it was ultimately determined that the Canadian government did not provide unfair subsidies to its lumber industry. "We believe that Canada will almost certainly prevail once again in its current cases before NAFTA and the WTO. Hopefully, the U.S. will not attempt to thwart the legal process. Otherwise, the proceedings could drag on for years, and in the meantime, U.S. home buyers and renters will have to pay the price." Mike Fritz, a lumber dealer from Massachusetts and Board Chair of the National Lumber and building Material Dealers Association, said: "Our nation's annual demand for Canadian spruce pine fir is well-known and well-documented throughout the U.S. consuming industries. The U.S. cannot provide sufficient framing lumber and relies on Canada for approximately one-third of its needs. "As national demand for affordable housing continues to grow year by year, we further realize the importance of ensuring that a secure, stable supply of Canadian softwood is available for interior framing," Fritz added. "We continue to hope that the handful of U.S. producers seeking to block Canadian product eventually realize the potentially serious damage they may do to the U.S. housing market by continually injecting uncertainty and volatility into the market for Canadian framing lumber. For over twenty years these producers have sought special protection from the U.S. government while other components of the industry devote their time to adapting to the globalization of our marketplace."

05/02/2002
Congressman Miller, Consumer Groups Urge Bush to Intervene in Lumber Dispute
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Congressman Miller, Consumer Groups Urge Bush to Intervene in Lumber Dispute

California Republican Congressman Gary Miller, a homebuilder and developer, today joined with consumer groups in calling for an end to efforts to impose punitive duties on softwood lumber imports from Canada that are essential for the U.S. housing market. Nearly one third of all lumber used for homes has to be imported since domestic supply can not meet demand. "It is important that our government look at the impact of its trade decisions on consumers," Miller said. He spoke to more than 200 lumber yard owners at the National Lumber and Building Material Dealer's legislative conference. "When we act to put tariffs in place against Canadian wood, we all know who pays -- the consumers. The proposed tariffs in this instance would put 29 percent sales tax on all Canadian lumber in a home. That clearly add nearly $1,500 per house, and will price close to 450,000 families out of the housing market since they cannot get mortgages." "We must balance trade policy with domestic issues and needs," Miller added. "Affordable housing is a very critical issue for America. We should not punish consumers in the interest of a handful of U.S. forest companies. The U.S. must have Canadian Lumber to survive, and we will continue to import it. It would be wrong for the U.S. to impose duties on that essential lumber that is no threat to the U.S. industry, at consumer expense." Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern land owners, forming the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, filed petitions a year ago alleging that they had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. The U.S. Commerce Department said it will impose the duties pending a decision by the International Trade Commission (ITC) which is expected May 2. Mike Fritz, a lumber dealer from Massachusetts and president of NLBMDA, participated in the March ITC hearing. "We hope that our input helped to educate the ITC commissioners about the important impacts trade decisions have on U.S. consumers. We continue to believe, as we have for over a decade, that the input of US consuming industries is vitally important to the understanding of the softwood lumber marketplace in the U.S., especially when it comes to providing insight into the everyday use and application of different species of lumber. Our nation's annual demand for Canadian spruce pine fir is well-known and well-documented throughout the U.S. consuming industries. "As national demand for affordable housing continues to grow year by year, we further realize the importance of ensuring that a secure, stable supply of Canadian softwood is available for interior framing," Fritz added. "We continue to hope that the handful of U.S. producers seeking to block Canadian product eventually realize the potentially serious damage they may do to the U.S. housing market by continually injecting uncertainty and volatility into the market for Canadian framing lumber. For over twenty years these producers have sought special protection from the U.S. government while other components of the industry devote their time to adapting to the globalization of our marketplace. "As the process moves forward, we will continue our efforts to educate decision makers about the important differences between lumber species, and we will continue working to ensure an end to the market volatility that has plagued lumber trade for decades," Fritz added. Michael Carliner, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders said that any tariff acts as a tax on U.S. homebuyers, renters and consumers, creating a very substantial burden on them. "Because there are not enough trees available to produce lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America" Carliner said. "While the tariffs will boost lumber prices and profits of domestic producers at the expense of U.S. consumers, the number of jobs in the U.S. lumber industry will remain limited by the finite domestic timber supply," Carliner added, noting that housing and related industries that use softwood lumber employ more than 7 million American workers and outnumber U.S. lumber-producing workers by 30 to 1. Speaking on behalf of the International Mass Retail Association, Jonathan Gold, director of international trade policy, joined in the call on the Bush administration not to let duties be imposed on Canadian softwood lumber. IMRA -- the world's leading alliance of retailers and their product and service suppliers -- is committed to bringing price-competitive value to the world's consumers. IMRA members represent over $1 trillion in sales annually and operate over 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers nationwide and employ millions of Americans. IMRA's membership includes some of the country's largest home centers and lumber dealers. "These companies represent the largest lumber dealers in the U.S. The lumber that these companies stock is determined not only by price, but by consumer preference," Gold said. "Prices for lumber are driven by supply and demand. Canadian lumber producers do not dictate the price that domestic producers are able to get on the market. The housing market is a factor driving movements in lumber prices." "If Canadian lumber becomes very much more expensive for our members' customers, they will have no choice but to turn to more European producers for consistent supply to satisfy their demand for quality," Gold said. "Such a price change would not cause our customers to switch to southern yellow pine for framing where Canadian softwood is clearly their choice. These two species are simply too different to be interchangeable." Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for an alliance of 17 national organizations and companies, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), which has been fighting the trade action, said: "It is very sad that a segment of U.S. forestry producers and land owners have been able to get our government to impose such a ridiculous level of duties on our consumers," said. "We believe that the President should intervene and stop this process. Canada is our most important trading partner and strong supporter of U.S. government global actions. We should not allow our own government to impose a new sales tax on consumers so that a handful of companies can improve their bottom lines." She noted that the alliance hoped that the ITC will evaluate the case on its merits, not because of political pressures. "The Commerce Department only found two instances in more than $10 billion in Canadian lumber sales where the product was directly competing with southern yellow pine," Petniunas said. "The U.S. case if very flawed." NLBMDA, NAHB, IMRA are members of the ACAH. Other members include: American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Sleep Products Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

04/23/2002
D.C. Trade Reps Urged to Ask President Bush to Intervene in Pending New 29 Percent Sales Tax on Lumber Consumers Imposed…
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D.C. Trade Reps Urged to Ask President Bush to Intervene in Pending New 29 Percent Sales Tax on Lumber Consumers Imposed…

Attendees at a meeting of Washington trade professionals held here today were urged to express their concerns to the Bush Administration about its looming 29 percent sales tax on U.S. consumers by putting protectionist duties on all softwood lumber imports from Canada. The U.S. cannot provide sufficient framing lumber and relies on Canada for approximately one-third of its needs. Lead by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern land owners forming the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions a year ago alleging that they had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. The U.S. Commerce Department said it will impose the duties pending a decision by the International Trade Commission which is expected May 2. "It is very sad that a segment of U.S. forestry producers and land owners have been able to get our government to impose such a ridiculous level of duties on our consumers," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for an alliance of 17 national organizations and companies, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), which has been fighting the trade action. She spoke to the Washington International Trade Association. "We believe that the President should intervene and stop this process," she said. "Canada is our most important trading partner and strong supporter of our overall government in many global actions. We should not allow our own government to impose a new sales tax on consumers so that a handful of companies can improve their bottom lines." Petniunas said that, if the new taxes are imposed, they will add nearly $1,500 to the price of a new home, pricing close to 450,000 families out of the housing market since they can not qualify for mortgages. "Unfortunately, those most impacted are first time homebuyers and seniors seeking to lower housing costs in retirement. While $1,500 may not sound like much to some people, for many, it is the difference between being able to buy a home for the first time, or not." ACAH believes that there should be no trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber imports. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to the administration indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. "For the first time ever, a panel of consumers was assembled to testify before the ITC in March," Petniunas said. "They represented homebuilders, lumber dealers, The Home Depot, manufactured housing firms, and others. Each clearly pointed out that softwood lumber does not compete with southern yellow pine, and that the charges by the Coalition are false." The panel appealed to the Commissioners to reject the Commerce Department's plan to impose the duties.

04/16/2002
Nuevo Dependencia and World Government?
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Press Release

Nuevo Dependencia and World Government?

© 2002 Copley News Service, 3/27/2002 Foreign aid is never enough for the left and always too much for the right. However, President George W. Bush did the wise thing two weeks ago when he announced that the United States will contribute $5 billion over the next three years into a new Millennium Challenge Account to fund initiatives to help developing nations improve their economies and raise their standards of living.

03/27/2002
Going Global
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Press Release

Going Global

In recent years “globalization” has become a battle cry for the forces of big government. International gatherings such as the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle or the recent European Union summit in Barcelona attract hundreds of thousands of protestors from around the globe. Union members and environmentalists man the picket lines with an amalgam of protestors rallying against a hodge-podge of social injustices. While it is difficult to discern a coherent vision among the polyglot of voices, one thing is clear: whatever the issue, the solution is more government and less free trade. This hostility towards increased exchange among nations ignores benefits that free trade bestows upon all nations.

03/26/2002
Commerce Department Action on Lumber Imports Harmful to U.S. Consumers, Economy, ACAH Says
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Commerce Department Action on Lumber Imports Harmful to U.S. Consumers, Economy, ACAH Says

The U.S. Commerce Department's decision today to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties totaling 29.01 percent on Canadian softwood lumber shipments into the U.S. will harm housing affordability and the nation's economy by acting as a hidden tax on new homes and on millions of workers in lumber-dependent industries, according to the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH).  "By following the wishes of a handful of U.S. forestry companies, the U.S. Commerce Department's ruling today stands as a slap in the face to millions of American consumers and workers who rely on ready access to Canadian softwood lumber products for housing, furniture, cabinetry and other uses," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH, an alliance of 17 national consumer groups and companies representing more than 95 percent of the consumption of Canadian softwood lumber in the U.S.  Canadian lumber imports are critical to meeting the nation's housing needs because there are not enough trees available to produce lumber for home building in the U.S.  Petniunas charged that today's Commerce Department action makes a mockery of President Bush's public proclamations of support for free trade.  "U.S. forestry companies have argued for more than 20 years that imported lumber is somehow subsidized.  They have always lost their arguments before international panels, and this latest ruling won't stand up to scrutiny either. The U.S. must have Canadian lumber to meet its housing construction needs.  U.S. forests have been over-harvested and there is no way for domestic producers to meet the demand.  Import barriers will simply raise lumber prices and forest company profits, without creating new lumber mill jobs," she said.  If the announced duties are added to U.S. lumber prices, the cost of an average new home would increase nearly $1,500," Petniunas continued. "U.S. Census Bureau figures indicate that such an increase could force close to 450,000 prospective American home buyers out of the market.  Additionally, the home building industry employs 6.5 million people.  This industry, which has been one of the healthiest segments of the nation's economy, could be seriously harmed by the Commerce Department's decision."  "Trade restrictions on lumber cause artificial price increases and volatile swings in the lumber market, both of which hurt housing affordability," said Bobby Rayburn, a home builder from Jackson, Miss. and vice president and treasurer of the National Association of Home Builders, an ACAH member.  Attention now swings to the International Trade Commission (ITC), which is expected to rule in late April on whether U.S. forestry companies have suffered any harm from Canadian softwood lumber imports.  "We can only hope that the ITC sees through some of the false arguments that use of lumber from Canada comes at the expense of U.S. lumber mills," Petniunas said.  "The types of lumber imported from Canada are different from the type produced from U.S. forests," said Rayburn.  "Ask any home builder across the United States-we need Canadian spruce pine fir for wall studs.  Southern yellow pine, because it is more likely to warp, is better suited for beams and joists. Framing walls with southern yellow pine just won't work for the homes we want to deliver to American consumers."  In addition to NAHB, ACAH members include American Grassroots Homeowners Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, 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 Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

03/22/2002

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