Contact FreedomWorks

400 North Capitol Street, NW
Suite 765
Washington, DC 20001

  • Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
  • Local 202.783.3870
Steel Never Sleeps
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

Steel Never Sleeps

In what is perhaps one of the most important economic decisions of his administration, President Bush is moving forward with a plan to impose a 30 percent tariff on imported steel. While this protectionist measure will be welcomed by the steel industry, consumers should be wary. Higher steel prices translate into higher prices for a wide array of consumer products, from automobiles to appliances to housing. Worse, it is not evident that higher tariffs will help the steel industry; taxpayers may be the next target as steelmakers seek greater subsidies and benefits from the federal government.

03/05/2002
Steel Trap
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

Steel Trap

ABSTRACT FROM CATO

03/01/2002
U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Tell Canada
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Tell Canada

With U.S. and Canadian trade negotiators engaged in 11th hour negotiations to resolve the long-running cross-border dispute over lumber, a delegation representing the interests of millions of U.S. consumers and workers in lumber-dependent industries today called on Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew to oppose any border measures such as quotas, tariffs or taxes that would restrict lumber supply and harm consumers by raising prices.  "We support changes to make lumber supply more responsive to market demand and applaud the far-reaching changes proposed by the Canadian provincial governments in the management of their timber that would remove incentives to over-produce during periods of weak demand, and make sales practices more transparent to eliminate suspicions that their timber sales are not market-based," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 17 American consumer and business groups fighting trade restraints on softwood lumber that harm U.S. consumers.  "However, with Canadian firms facing punitive penalties imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department, we are strongly opposed to the idea of a negotiated settlement for the sake of expediency that institutes any so-called border measures such as quotas, tariffs or taxes. This would be far worse to the interests of consumers than no agreement at all," Petniunas added.  The U.S. Department of Commerce last year imposed preliminary anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. in response to complaints lodged by a handful of U.S. lumber producers. It is expected to issue a final ruling on the cases on March 21. In the meantime, U.S. and Canadian negotiators have been engaged in talks to find a negotiated settlement before the Commerce Department makes its final decision.  "Free trade is the cornerstone of NAFTA and a basic principle of the Bush Administration," said Petniunas. "To extend these duties next month would fly in the face of free trade. That is why it is extremely important that the Canadian government stands firm and does not allow the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports (the U.S. lumber lobby) to use threats or intimidation to coerce it into making a bad deal that would create distortions in the marketplace, provide windfall gains for timber barons and leave millions of U.S. consumers -- the home buyers, renters and people remodeling their homes -- footing the bill in the form of higher lumber prices."  If the duties were extended in March, history has shown that they are likely to be lower than the tariffs currently in place, and Canada would still have a strong case to present to the World Trade Organization and NAFTA, according to Petniunas.  "Canada has already laid the groundwork for an appeal with the World Trade Organization and with NAFTA, and we think the Canadians have a solid legal foundation," said Petniunas. "There have been three previous countervailing duty cases on this issue, and 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. As this case moves forward, we believe this conclusion will once again be reaffirmed, and that free trade in lumber between Canada and the U.S. will prevail."  "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 (NAHB), an ACAH member. "Each one dollar increase in the price of framing lumber per 1,000 board feet adds about $20 to the price of an average new home."  If the current duties are fully reflected in U.S. lumber prices, the cost of an average new home would increase by at least $1,500.  U.S. Census figures indicate that such an increase could force at least 450,000 prospective American home buyers out of the market.  Reiterating comments he made before the Senate Finance Committee during a Feb. 13 hearing on lumber trade issues, Rayburn told Pettigrew, "Because of the harmful effects of artificial price increases, I want to be clear; we are opposed to border measurers such as quotas, tariffs or export fees that restrict imports of Canadian lumber."  Furthermore, Rayburn said that lumber from Canada is qualitatively different from the softwood lumber produced in the southeastern United States and is used for different purposes.  "The spruce and white pine from Canada is better suited for wall framing," he explained. "Southern yellow pine, the most common domestic species, is more likely to bend and warp, and is used for beams and joists and for outdoor applications requiring pressure-treated lumber.  In the absence of Canadian spruce, builders are likely to turn to light weight steel studs or lumber imports from Europe in order to build homes with walls that don't crack."  Retailers are also opposed to the U.S. trade action.  "Home Depot is focused on delivering the right product at the right price to our customers," Annette Verschuren, president, Home Depot Canada, told Pettigrew.  "That is why we support free trade and Canada's position on this issue. The Softwood Lumber agreement imposed volatility in the marketplace for consumers. We are encouraging the Canadian government to stay the course and continue to pursue free trade in lumber between Canada and the United States."  In addition to the negative impact on home buyers, others in the industry will be harmed, according to ACAH.  "These duties will reduce the number of new homes being built," Petniunas said. "The seven million people employed in the housing construction sector, manufactured housing builders, employees of lumber yards and mass retailers that supply home builders and others in the manufacturing and supply chain will all suffer."  In addition to NAHB and The Home Depot, other 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, 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.

02/28/2002
American Trade Policy at War With Itself
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

American Trade Policy at War With Itself

© 2002 Copley News Service, 2/27/2002 In his State of the Union Address last month, President George W. Bush sounded like Adam Smith when he said, "Good jobs depend on expanding trade." Yet sooner or later, the president is expected to announce what can only be called a "mercantilist" idea to enact higher tariffs (perhaps as high as 40 percent) and more quota restrictions on imported steel. From Adam Smith to industrial mercantilism in less than 60 days. Wow!

02/27/2002
Commerce Department Actions on Lumber Imports Harm American Consumers, National Economy, Senate Finance Committee Told
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

Commerce Department Actions on Lumber Imports Harm American Consumers, National Economy, Senate Finance Committee Told

 A group representing more than 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber in the United States today urged the Senate Finance Committee to "protect the interests of U.S. consumers" by asking the Bush Administration to interpret pending cases involving softwood lumber trade with Canada in a "fair, factual, and unbiased manner."  The Alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an ad hoc group of 17 national organizations, called for free trade of softwood lumber between Canada and the U.S. in a written statement presented to the Senate Finance Committee.  "Any level of trade restraint on lumber harms U.S. consumers and the national economy," explained Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson.  "While we applaud the Administration for attempting to reach a long-term durable solution for trade between the two countries, we are greatly concerned by recent actions taken by the Commerce Department."  Petniunas indicated that Commerce announced in August it would impose a 19.3 percent countervailing duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports.  Two months later it announced it would tack on an additional 12.6 percent in duties for anti-dumping.  "These claims of subsidy (the basis for the Commerce Department's action) remain unsubstantiated even though U.S. industry had brought numerous cases," pointed out Robert Verdisco, president, International Mass Retail Association, an ACAH member.  "The U.S. has never been able to prove in a neutral forum, such as U.S. courts, a NAFTA tri-national panel or at the World Trade Organization that Canada's forest policies constitute a subsidy, as defined by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade."  Yet, the Commerce stance is hurting U.S. consumers and the economy, according to ACAH.  "Imports from Canada represent approximately 35 percent of the softwood lumber used by U.S. consumers," Petniunas reported.  "These actions create harm for potential American homeowners and the American economy.  As the Administration strives to strengthen the economy, it must remember that the housing sector represents one of the strongest and most important segments of our economy."  "Home building and remodeling account for two-thirds of lumber consumption in the U.S.," said Bobby Rayburn, vice president and treasurer, National Association of Home Builders, an ACAH member.  "Lumber accounts for a larger share of the cost of a home than any of the other materials used by homebuilders.  Each one dollar increase in the price of framing lumber per 1,000 board feet adds about $20 to the price of an average new home."  U.S. consumers and lumber-dependent industries are already experiencing the harmful effects of these trade restrictions, according to ACAH.  "The preliminary decisions on lumber tariffs have resulted in increased price volatility in the market, forcing U.S. purchasers to make provisions to incorporate what amounts to as much as a 32 percent tax imposed by the Commerce Department," said Petniunas.  "It is estimated that the Preliminary Determinations by the Commerce Department could add as much as $1,000 to the price of a new home, thus excluding nearly one-half million U.S. households from mortgage eligibility," Petniunas continued.  Additionally, the Commerce Department actions conflict with other steps by the Bush Administration to promote free trade, according to the ACAH.  "Just last month President Bush, while speaking to the Organization of American States, indicated he would seek a free trade accord with the countries of Central America," Petniunas reported.  "To encourage free trade with Central America while instituting protectionist tariffs with Canada -- our best trading partner in this hemisphere -- simply does not make sense."  ACAH today called the Commerce Department's action nothing more than a "tax increase on housing."  "ACAH opposed implementing tariffs and other potentially restrictive border measures because they cause artificial price increases and volatile swings in the lumber market, which hurts housing affordability and U.S. purchasers of lumber," Petniunas said.  "These types of actions are simply a tax increase on housing."  "We urge that the Senate Finance Committee protect the interests of U.S. consumers and lumber-dependent industries that employ seven million workers by requesting that the Administration interpret pending trade cases in a fair, factual, and unbiased manner," ACAH wrote in its testimony.  "Moreover, it is imperative the Administration exclude any provision that would impose a tax, quota or other government-mandated cost increase on U.S. consumers in negotiations with Canada."

02/13/2002
U.S. Flaws in Trade Action Against Canadian Softwood Lumber Cited
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

U.S. Flaws in Trade Action Against Canadian Softwood Lumber Cited

Congressional trade staff today heard that a major flaw in the current trade penalties being applied to Canadian softwood lumber imports is the failure of the Bush administration to consider the significantly negative impacts they cause on consumers. The briefing, hosted by the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, was sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee.  "The Department of Commerce effectively levied a federal sales tax on every American family buying a home," said Gary Horlick, prominent trade attorney with O'Melveny and Myers, a law firm representing American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The combined countervailing duties and antidumping duties imposed by Commerce amounted to 32 percent for 90 days last fall.  In December, countervailing duties lapsed until May 2002, and the current antidumping duty is 13 percent.  ACAH is an ad-hoc alliance of 17 major national consumer groups, businesses and organizations representing at least 95 percent of lumber consumption in the U.S.  "These duties essentially mean that the cost of homes in the U.S. is increased by more than $1,000 per home, which, according to U. S. Census Bureau calculations, means that approximately a half-million American families can not qualify for mortgages to buy a new home," Horlick said. "In 1986, Commerce negotiated a 15 percent export tax with Canada that cost American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. The Softwood Lumber Agreement, which expired last March, replaced it, adding even more hidden taxes on homebuyers, and pricing hundreds of thousands of families out of the housing market.  It is time for the U. S. to give millions of consumers consideration in trade disputes. It is time to get rid of hidden sales taxes and help make homes more affordable."  Horlick also said that the U. S. is not following World Trade Organization or North American Free Trade Agreement rules in making its preliminary countervailing and antidumping decisions. "The U. S. position has significant flaws," he said. "It uses cross-border comparisons, for example, to calculate the duties.  Cross-border comparisons are not allowed under international trade rules."  Following hearings before the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission in late February and March, final determinations will be made on both countervailing and antidumping duties in May.  "What the protectionist forces in the U.S. are asking Commerce to do is to force Canada to agree to an export tax on softwood lumber, collect it and keep it in Canada," Horlick added.  This means that a foreign government will impose a tax on lumber bought by U. S. homebuilders and consumers."  Congressional staff members were also told that spruce pine fir from Canada does not compete with southern yellow pine produced in the U. S.  The properties of the two species are significantly different, and their uses in a home are different.  Representatives of homebuilders, lumber dealers and other consumer groups told the International Trade Commission (ITC) last summer that Canadian lumber is used for framing because it will not twist or warp. Southern yellow pine is not suitable for framing, and is used in decking, for example.  Horlick noted that both Canadian softwood lumber and U. S. southern yellow pine are needed to build U.S. houses, so raising the price of Canadian lumber reduces the number of houses built, and thus, the amount of U. S. lumber ultimately used.  Additionally, the U. S. supply of softwood lumber has been significantly depleted or is now locked up in state and federal forests.  Twelve U.S. Senate and two House leaders recently sent a letter to President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Don Evans urging them to overturn the duties that are harming consumers, the housing industry and the overall economy.   In addition, more than 100 Members of Congress have expressed support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada by sponsoring H. Con. Res. 45 or S. Con. Res. 4.  ACAH 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 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.

02/11/2002
Governments Create Calamity, Markets Get the Blame
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

Governments Create Calamity, Markets Get the Blame

© 2001 Copley News Service, 1/2/2002 When democratic governments create economic calamity, free markets get the blame. In today's world that means the International Monetary Fund, with U.S. backing, bails out lenders on the condition that creditor governments agree to poison their citizens with fiscal austerity, causing the people to rebel and turn to socialism. If you want to know where the next riots will break out, follow the IMF "candy man" around the world.

01/02/2002
Organization of Milk Exporting States
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

Organization of Milk Exporting States

Down, but almost never out, agricultural price support programs have tremendous staying power in Washington. Attempts to eliminate them are fought tooth and nail by constituencies dependent on price-fixing for their livelihood. Like many other congressionally-mandated price-fixing cartels, the Northeast Dairy Compact was instituted as a temporary measure to ensure the viability of farmers in a time of declining prices. Like most other "temporary" government subsidies dairy price supports have become a "necessary" component of U.S. agriculture policy.

12/17/2001
Trade Promotion Authority Promotes Economic Growth
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
Press Release

Trade Promotion Authority Promotes Economic Growth

Last week, by the narrowest of margins-215 to 214, the House passed legislation granting the president trade promotion authority, critical to the United States' continued prosperity in a global market. Trade promotion authority, also known as fast track authority, allows the president to negotiate trade agreements that are then sent to Congress for and up or down vote-no amendments allowed. This allows the president to expand the marketplace for American goods and services without becoming embroiled in the partisan wrangling of congressional politics. As the world's largest trading nation, the United States has much to gain from the passage of trade promotion authority.

12/11/2001
U. S. Consumer Groups Applaud New World Trade Organization Panel To Investigate U.S. Commerce Department Duties on Canad…
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

U. S. Consumer Groups Applaud New World Trade Organization Panel To Investigate U.S. Commerce Department Duties on Canad…

Consumer groups in the U.S. applauded a decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) today to establish a dispute settlement panel to investigate a formal complaint by Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision imposing countervailing duties of 19.3 percent on softwood lumber imports is illegal. American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) spokesperson, Susan Petniunas, said: "The Commerce Department has clearly ignored the significant negative impact of these duties, and related antidumping duties, on consumers, in favor of a handful of U.S. forestry companies. Our legal analysis shows that the actions are illegal, and we are confident that the neutral WTO panel will find the same." The panel is composed of representatives of three neutral countries and would be expected to return a binding decision as early as six months from now. Canada is expected to also see a panel established to examine Commerce's imposition of 12.6 percent antidumping duties soon. Petniunas said that the action also is illegal, and that the WTO is expected to agree, overturning them.

12/05/2001

Pages