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U.S. Government Actions Threaten to Accelerate Recession, Deny Homes to Approximately 400,000 Potential Home Buyers
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U.S. Government Actions Threaten to Accelerate Recession, Deny Homes to Approximately 400,000 Potential Home Buyers

The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance (AHGA), which represents the 70 million U.S. homeowners, today called on President George W. Bush's special softwood lumber trade envoy to urge the President to cancel duties imposed by the Department of Commerce that will deepen the recession and prevent hundreds of thousands of American families from buying homes. Those duties amount to a 32 percent federally imposed sales tax on homebuyers and other consumers. The special envoy, former Montana Governor Marc Racicot, was appointed to try to find a solution to a major softwood lumber trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. "This tax will raise the cost of an average home $1,000, making homeownership unaffordable to nearly a half million families who are seeking to buy homes. AHGA believes the U.S. Commerce Department has bowed to pressure from a handful of large U.S. lumber producers like International Paper, along with a few forest land owners," said Beth Hahn, President of AHGA. Governor Racicot, who has become the chief U.S. negotiator on the issue, is expected by many to continue pushing Canada in negotiating sessions this week in Toronto to impose a "temporary" tax on consumers or face continued Commerce Department tariffs affecting U.S. consumers. The administration has been pressuring Canada to make reforms of policies it says amount to subsidies. However, those policies were previously challenged through NAFTA and the WTO procedures and were, each time, found legal. "Ironically, the U.S. has made the subsidy allegations at a time when our government reports to the WTO that it provides more than $600 million in federal subsidies to its timber producers, and that hundreds of millions more are provided by federal forestry management and through state subsidies and incentives," Hahn added. "These companies are already heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, and should learn to compete rather than seek more taxes that will ultimately be paid by those same consumers. "AHGA strongly supports President Bush's efforts to lower trade barriers and enact fast track trade negotiating authority," Hahn said. "In every country some business sectors will win and others will lose. However, consumers in every country will benefit from free trade. The solution is not to reward inefficient business sectors with more protection and subsidies, but to offer programs to help displaced workers adjust to temporary unemployment and find new jobs as the President and Congressional leaders have advocated in their economic recovery proposals," Hahn said. At issue are 19.3 percent countervailing duties and 12.6 percent antidumping duties that have been imposed on all Canadian softwood lumber imports. The duties were imposed based on allegations by a few U.S. producers who claim they have been injured by the imports, which account for about 35 percent of softwood lumber consumption in the U.S. The duties are considered preliminary, but are being collected until a final determination is made sometime in the spring. The countervailing duties expire Dec. 15, but could be re-imposed next spring. Antidumping duties however will continue until a final determination expected in May. "These duties ignore the fact that the U.S. timber industry is not able to satisfy domestic needs for softwood, and never will," Hahn said. "Over the past several years, the U.S. government has expanded its efforts to protect our own forests, saving these wonderful natural resources for future generations. However protecting U.S. forests also inevitably makes us more dependent on imports. Therefore, American home builders and consumers must have access to affordable and available Canadian lumber to build homes. Auburn University studies showed that Canadian timber growing and harvesting practices are, in most instances, much more friendly to the environment than those of U.S. timber companies." Hahn said that the ultimate victims of the duties are first time homebuyers and seniors who need affordable housing. Economists have said that, based on U.S. Census Bureau calculations, the duties add more than a $1,000 to the cost of a new home and price nearly a half million U.S. families out of the housing market since that amount prohibits them from qualifying for a mortgage. "We are in a recession and this is a time when we need affordable homes and to not damage the housing sector which remains the only part of our fragile economy that continues to support the GDP," she added. AHGA is a member of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 17 consumer and business groups whose mission is to promote free trade policies that enhance affordable housing. ACAH is opposed to any new trade restraints between the two countries in any form, even as a bridging agreement, export or import tax, that hurt U.S. consumers and the economy. ACAH represents consumers and companies who account for approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. 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.

11/28/2001
Success Abroad Relies on Strength at Home
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Press Release

Success Abroad Relies on Strength at Home

As Congress struggles to develop a stimulus package and U.S. troops are deployed in Afghanistan, the economy continues to sputter. Uncertainty, a lack of consumer confidence, and a jittery stock market have slowed economic growth. The September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. clearly exacerbated economic problems that already were starting to emerge. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research recently announced the recession began last March, ending a record ten-year economic expansion. Amidst the faltering economy and the military build-up in Afghanistan, the old chestnut "War is good for the economy" has re-appeared, suggesting that increased military spending will boost demand in the economy, putting people back to work while pumping up Wall Street. In reality, war is a costly undertaking that cannot be sustained without a strong economy. President Bush cannot ignore domestic economic policy as he pursues foreign threats to the United States.

11/25/2001
Twelve U.S. Senate, House Leaders Ask President Bush, Commerce To Reverse 32 Percent Trade Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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Twelve U.S. Senate, House Leaders Ask President Bush, Commerce To Reverse 32 Percent Trade Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

Twelve U.S. Senate and two House leaders today sent a letter to President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Don Evans urging them to overturn duties on Canadian lumber imports imposed by the Commerce Department that are harming consumers, the housing industry and the overall economy at a time when the nation is struggling to avert a recession. At the end of October, the Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling imposing average anti-dumping duties of 12.6 percent which, when added to the 19.3 percent countervailing duty Commerce imposed in August, amounts to a 32 percent federal sales tax on American lumber consumers. Commenting on the countervailing duty alone, the congressmen said, "This could reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by at least 0.05 percent to 0.11 percent at a time when the U.S. economy contracted 0.4 percent in the third quarter." The Senate and House members declared that tacking on an additional 12.6 percent in anti-dumping duties "will further harm consumers by increasing housing costs even more." Signing the letter were: Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Charles E. Grassley (R- Iowa), Richard J. Durbin (D- Ill.), Jim Bunning (R- Ken.) Jon L. Kyl (R- Ariz.), Evan Bayh (D- Ind.), Jeff Bingaman (D- N.M.) Chuck Hagel (R- Neb.), James M. Inhofe (R- Okla.) Jack Reed (D- R.I.), Peter G. Fitzgerald (R- Ill.),Richard G. Lugar (R- Ind.). Also signing the letter were Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D- Md.), lead sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution 45, which has 90 House Members as co-signers, calling for an end to trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber. More than six million American workers involved in lumber-dependent businesses, including home builders, remodelers, lumber dealers and workers in industries such as wood pallet manufacturers, window frame and bed makers, depend on a steady, reliable supply of softwood lumber for their livelihood. These professionals, who produce a broad array of wood products for millions of American consumers, outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the U.S. "Enacting new trade barriers that drive up the cost of housing and all kinds of wood products for millions of consumers and workers in lumber- dependent industries at a time when the economy is struggling to stay afloat makes absolutely no economic sense," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 17-member alliance of consumer and business groups fighting trade restraints on softwood lumber from Canada that harm U.S. consumers. In their letter to President Bush and Secretary Evans, the members of Congress pointed out that consumers, particularly those that are first-time homebuyers and senior citizens seeking less expensive retirement homes or manufactured housing, will bear the brunt of what amounts to a hidden federal sales tax on essential framing lumber for housing. "Uncertainty created by the lumber tariffs results in increased price volatility in the market as companies attempt to make provisions to incorporate what amounts to a 32 percent tax imposed by the Commerce Department on the price of lumber," the lawmakers said. "We urge you to assess this situation, and factor in how Commerce's preliminary determination is negatively impacting the housing sector, one of the only strong segments of our economy, and one which accounts for five percent of GDP." The U.S. lawmakers added that the countervailing and anti-dumping duties were inappropriate and should not be implemented since they are "contrary to the Administration's stated position for free trade and the position of more than 100 members of the House of Representatives and Senate that are sponsors of H. Con. Res. 45 and S. Con. Res. 4 that call for no new trade restraints and free lumber trade to benefit U.S. consumers and affordable housing." The members of Congress concluded their letter by urging President Bush to "consult with Commerce Secretary Evans and reverse this preliminary decision as Commerce continues its review of countervailing and anti-dumping petitions. Consumers must be considered in this issue. Consideration also must be given to the negative impact that the proposed duties are having on our nation's economy, which is so reliant on a strong housing market." Petniunas applauded the letter and said that consumers deserve to be considered strongly in resolving this issue. "It is important to end trade restraints on Canadian lumber. This would benefit consumers and housing affordability," she said. "It is time for free trade under NAFTA. Any duty or limitations, including negotiated deals or so-called bridge agreements, end up as a tax on U.S. consumers." Recently the National Hispanic Contractors Association, an organization with 130,000 member firms in the U.S., made a similar appeal to members of Congress, pointing out that: "We also are appealing to our U.S. producers to support their customers and to end these senseless turf battles between our two countries. We should be working together to expand the market for wood, and compete against the growing use of wood substitutes, such as steel." A similar appeal was made by the Manufactured Housing Institute and Manufacturing Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, pointing out that the manufactured housing builders rely on softwood lumber from Canada since southern yellow pine does not have the characteristics required for this type of construction. Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, last week called upon the Bush Administration to "reverse these preliminary decisions before greater damage occurs to the economy and consumers. NBCC is leading an effort to build a million new affordable homes to assist low to moderate income families throughout the U.S. These efforts would be significantly harmed if these trade restraints remain in place, or a new deal is negotiated to limit lumber supply. These actions pose a grave threat to those families' dreams of home ownership." Alford noted that the duties would add a billion dollars to the cost of the million homes, or significantly reduce the number of homes that could be built in the next five years. "Numerous studies show the importance of home ownership to families and their communities," he said. "Communities with low ownership are inherently less prosperous, less stable, and suffer disproportionate share of social ills, including higher crime rates, illiteracy, and unemployment. Affordable housing is essential for America." The trade restraints are actions taken by the Commerce Department based on petitions from a handful of U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Sierra Pacific, Potlatch and Temple Inland, along with southern landholders, who petitioned Commerce to impose the duties when the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in April. That agreement put quota restrictions on the amount of lumber imported into the U.S. over a five-year period. ACAH has been fighting the trade restraints and supporting ending such actions that ultimately only affect and harm U.S. consumers and homebuyers while benefiting only a small number of U.S. lumber producing companies. ACAH represents approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. 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.

11/13/2001
Bush Administration's Lumber Policies Harm Consumers, Housing Affordability and Economy According to ACAH
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Bush Administration's Lumber Policies Harm Consumers, Housing Affordability and Economy According to ACAH

The Bush Administration's actions imposing crushing duties of at least 32 percent on Canadian lumber imports will harm millions of U.S. consumers and lumber-dependent workers, housing affordability and the fragile economy, according to the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). On Oct. 31, the Commerce Department imposed average anti-dumping duties of 12.6 percent on Canadian lumber imports, which, when added to the 19.3 percent countervailing duty imposed by Commerce in August, amounts to a 32 percent federal sales tax on American lumber consumers. Representatives of ACAH, a group of 16 consumer and business groups whose mission is to promote free trade policies that enhance affordable housing, slammed the Commerce action as "unacceptable protectionism that hurts U.S. consumers." "It is unconscionable that the Bush Administration would allow these protectionist measures at a time when the President said, only last week, that he intended to 'tear down walls' that create barriers to free trade," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the ACAH. "The U.S. economy shrank 0.4 percent in the third quarter, and would have fallen even further without the housing sector's 1.9 percent net growth. Enacting new trade barriers that will harm housing, at a time when this industry has been propping up the economy, makes absolutely no sense," Petniunas said. ACAH opposes any trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber, essential to the U.S. housing market and a wide range of products including bed frames, wooden pallets, and pellets for fuel. "A 32 percent lumber tariff on Canadian imports could add up to $1,500 to the cost of an average home," said Bobby Rayburn, vice president/secretary of the National Association of Home Builders and a home builder from Jackson, Miss. "While $1,500 is not a huge percentage of a cost of a home, it is still big money to most Americans. Consider the facts: A full 14 percent of American families today -- 13.7 million households -- have 'critical housing needs,' meaning that they spend more than half of their income on housing or live in seriously substandard conditions. The homeownership rate for African Americans, Hispanics and young households -- among the fastest growing demographic sectors -- stand at least 20 points below the national average of 68 percent. And higher lumber prices just don't hurt home buyers, they raise the costs for renters and home owners seeking to remodel their homes." Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, called upon the Bush Administration to "reverse these preliminary decisions before greater damage occurs to the economy and consumers. NBCC is leading an effort to build a million new affordable homes to assist low to moderate income families throughout the U.S. These efforts would be significantly harmed if these trade restraints remain in place, or a new deal is negotiated to limit lumber supply. These actions pose a grave threat to those families' dreams of home ownership." Alford noted that the duties would add a billion dollars to the cost of the million homes, or significantly reduce the number of homes that could be built in the next five years. Numerous studies show the importance of home ownership to families and their communities. Communities with low ownership are inherently less prosperous, less stable, and suffer disproportionate share of social ills, including higher crime rates, illiteracy, and unemployment. Affordable housing is essential for America." "For more than a decade, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a lobby group representing a handful of U.S. lumber producers, has spent millions of dollars to appease their stockholders by blocking competition with Canada, at the expense of market stability, consumers, and affordable housing," said Gary Donnelly, president of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, which represents more than 8,000 independent lumber dealers in the U.S. "That coalition is unwilling to admit that the U.S. producers have a technology lag in their mills and a forest policy that has dramatically shut off access to federal and state forests. Putting a federal tax on the back of consumers and homebuyers will not modernize their member's mills or open up the forests. This is the time we need to encourage homebuilding and remodeling, not hinder it." The Home Depot, which has stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, echoed the concerns. "We want to provide the lowest prices for our customers," said Stephen P. Conwell, global product merchant, lumber. "This can only be accomplished through free and open lumber trade between the U.S. and Canada." The Home Depot is a member of the International Mass Retail Association that made an appeal last week to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Zoelleck to refrain from negotiating new restrictions on Canadian Softwood Lumber. IMRA President Robert J. Verdisco told the ambassador that "the imposition of any kind of taxes, whether they are as a result of U.S. trade remedy laws or a negotiated settlement could wreak havoc on the nation's housing sector. Approximately 35 percent of the softwood lumber consumption in the U.S. comes from Canada. Petniunas pointed out that the duties will not only harm housing affordability by raising the cost of new site built or manufactured housing, but they could also effectively prevent an additional hundreds of thousands of American households from being able to qualify for a home mortgage. "Many of these are first-time homebuyers and seniors moving to more affordable housing." Consumers for World Trade (CWT) Executive Director Robin Lanier said: "While we have deep concerns about the U.S. trade remedy process, at least Canadian producers have an option of pursuing an international review through the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization. Canada should resist any negotiated deal and pursue these remedies if the U.S. persists in trying to impose punitive new taxes on consumers." Late this summer, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members sent a letter to President Bush, along with House and Senate resolutions signed by more than 100 congressional members, urging the President 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. 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 These professionals, who produce a broad array of wood products for millions of American consumers, outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. ACAH is an alliance of 16-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include 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.

11/05/2001
U.S. Consumer Groups Urge Bush to Reverse Commerce Decision Imposing High Federal Sales Tax on Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports
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U.S. Consumer Groups Urge Bush to Reverse Commerce Decision Imposing High Federal Sales Tax on Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports

The Commerce Department's preliminary decision today to impose anti-dumping duties averaging 12.58 percent on Canadian softwood lumber imports into the U. S. is "nothing more than a federally imposed sales tax on lumber essential for the U.S. housing sector," according to the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The 16-member ACAH alliance, which represents approximately 95 percent of the softwood lumber use in the U.S., called on President George W. Bush to intervene and reverse the decision. "Imposing these new duties is a serious mistake that harms consumers and further threatens our already fragile economy," said ACAH spokesperson Susan Petniunas. "With the 12.58 percent anti-dumping duties added to the 19.3 percent countervailing duties imposed in August, the Bush Administration has said 'no' to affordable homes, and 'yes' to a new 31.88 percent federal tax on lumber that could price as many as a million families out of qualifying for mortgages." Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced the preliminary decision to assess antidumping duties, claiming that Canadian forest producers were selling softwood lumber to the U.S. market for less than normal value. Margins for the six lumber producers selected by the Commerce Department to participate in the investigation ranged from 5.94 percent to 19.24 percent, resulting in an average rate of 12.58 percent. This average rate of 12.58 percent will be applied to imports of Canadian softwood lumber from all other producers. Softwood lumber is used primarily for framing in new homes, in manufactured housing and a range of products such as bed frames, wood pallets, windows and doors. Approximately 35 percent of the softwood lumber consumption in the U.S. comes from Canada. "This action, which is counter to the stated Administration objectives of opening markets and expanding free trade, could reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by at least 0.05 percent to 0.11 percent at a time when most economists and analysts agree that the U.S. economy is already experiencing negative growth," she added. "Punishing the housing market now, at a time when this sector has played such a key role in keeping the economy afloat throughout the year, makes absolutely no economic sense." Petniunas pointed out that the duties are expected to add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home or manufactured housing, and would make it impossible for an estimated million families to qualify for mortgages to buy a new home. "Many of these are first-time homebuyers and seniors moving to more affordable housing," she said. The Manufactured Housing Institute and Manufacturing Housing Association for Regulatory Reform sent a letter to members of Congress in September pointing out that the countervailing duty alone has increased the cost of a manufactured home by up to $ 2,000. The average cost is $ 43,600. Manufactured housing builders, as do most home builders, rely on softwood lumber from Canada since southern yellow pine does not have the characteristics required for this type of construction, and because U.S. production can not meet their needs. "U. S. consumers deserve free trade without any new trade restraints," said Petniunas. "We were hopeful that a fair process at Commerce would 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. Unfortunately, Commerce has not considered the impact of these trade actions on consumers, or even more importantly, on the U.S. economy." "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 federal tax on all lumber used in homebuilding in the U.S. This penalizes consumers and hurts housing affordability," Petniunas added. "It is time for free trade under NAFTA. Any duty or limitations, including negotiated deals or so-called bridge agreements, end up as a tax on U.S. consumers." Consumer groups believe that the duty levels calculated in these preliminary determinations will ultimately be reversed because they are not warranted in this case, and Petniunas called on the Canadian government to stand firm in opposing them. More than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Congress jointly sent a letter to President Bush this summer 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. Last week, the International Mass Retail Association, appealed to U.S. Trade Ambassador Robert Zoellick to end efforts to negotiate more trade restraints on Canadian softwood lumber, and to consider consumer needs and interests for the best quality products at the lowest cost for homebuilding and remodeling. 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 These professionals, who produce a broad array of wood products for millions of American consumers, outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. The ACAH is an alliance of 16-organizations, representing approximately 95 percent of softwood lumber use in the U.S. ACAH members include 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 action.

10/31/2001
Hispanic Contractors Urge Congress to Seek Commerce Department Reversal of Decision to Impose 19.3 Percent 'Federal Sale…
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Hispanic Contractors Urge Congress to Seek Commerce Department Reversal of Decision to Impose 19.3 Percent 'Federal Sale…

The United States Hispanic Contractors Association (USHCA), the fastest growing Hispanic business association in the U.S. with more than 130,000 member firms in 15 states, today added its voice to other consumer groups appealing to members of Congress to encourage the Commerce Department to reverse its preliminary decision to impose 19.3 percent duties on all softwood lumber imported from Canada, and to move to free lumber trade under NAFTA. The group is headquartered in Austin, Texas. "It's unfortunate that the handful of U.S. forestry companies have sought protectionist action that amounts to imposing a federal sales tax on vital Canadian lumber needed for housing construction," said Frank Fuentes, chairman of the USHCA. "The needed supply of framing lumber is not available in the U.S. since we have historically continued to reduce our supplies of softwood lumber, and state and national forests have increasingly been placed off-limits for logging. Our housing sector can not prosper without Canadian softwood." On August 10, 2001, the Commerce Department announced that it would impose a 19.3 percent countervailing duty on Canadian softwood lumber imports, which accounts for some 35 percent of U.S. softwood lumber consumption. A handful of U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Sierra Pacific, Potlatch and Temple Inland, along with southern landholders, petitioned Commerce to impose the duties when the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in April. That agreement put quota restrictions on the amount of lumber imported into the U.S. over a five year period. Fuentes said that the proposed duty could reduce U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from 0.05 percent to 0.11 percent at a time when GDP -- at last report -- is only 0.3 percent. Later this month, Commerce will rule on a request for an additional 39 percent in dumping duties that will further add to the "unprecedented federal sales tax on lumber in homes, and damage U.S. economic growth," he added. "These trade actions harm consumers all across the U.S." The countervailing duty could raise the cost of a typical new home by $1,000 to $2,000. U.S. Census Bureau data have shown that a price hike of even this amount could drive thousands of households out of the housing market, depriving families of the American dream of home ownership, Fuentes said. "These costs significantly impact lower income, retiring senior citizens and first time homebuyers. If the antidumping duties are added, the numbers will be significantly higher." "We are asking members of Congress to carefully weigh the impact of this trade restraint on housing affordability, and specifically on the fragile homebuilding sector of our economy," Fuentes said. "There is an affordable housing shortage in this country. We are encouraging members of Congress to join with more than 100 members of the Senate and House who are already calling for free trade in lumber through concurrent resolutions in the Senate and House (S. Con. Res. 4 and H. Con. Res. 45)." The two resolutions call for ending trade restraints and moving to free trade in softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada. "We also are appealing to our U.S. producers to support their customers and to end these senseless turf battles between our two countries," Fuentes said. "We should be working together to expand the market for wood, and compete against the growing use of wood substitutes, such as steel." A similar appeal was made in mid-September by two ACAH member organizations, Manufactured Housing Institute and Manufacturing Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, pointing out that the cost of a manufactured home has increased by as much as $2,000 since the duties were imposed. The average cost of a manufactured home is $43,600. The manufactured housing builders rely on softwood lumber from Canada since southern yellow pine does not have the characteristics required for this type of construction. 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. The ACAH represents 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.

10/09/2001
Trade, Terror and Truth
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Press Release

Trade, Terror and Truth

Copley News Service, 10/03/2001 In addition to America's battle plan for the war on terrorism, we have to develop a battle plan to combat recession. Even before the terrible events of Sept. 11, the economy was stumbling toward a deflationary recession because of deflationary monetary policy. Coupled with unnecessarily high tax rates on the factors of production and unwarranted regulatory encumbrances, the economy didn't have a chance.

10/03/2001
President Bush Urged to Intervene in Commerce Decision Imposing 19.3 Percent Duties on Canadian Lumber Imports
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President Bush Urged to Intervene in Commerce Decision Imposing 19.3 Percent Duties on Canadian Lumber Imports

Citing its harmful effects on housing consumers, lumber-dependent industries and the overall economy, President George W. Bush was urged today to intervene in a preliminary decision by the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties of 19.3 percent on softwood lumber imports from Canada. According to the alliance of American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), a 15-member organization that represents over 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber in the U.S., in a letter to the President, said that the duties could reduce GDP from 0.05 to 0.11 percent at a time when GDP growth was last reported to be only 0.3 percent. (Letter follows.) "The Commerce Department is considering additional anti-dumping duties of up to 39 percent, which could further reduce the GDP," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson. "We urge President Bush to assess this situation, and factor in how Commerce's preliminary determination is negatively impacting the housing sector and other lumber-dependent industries that provide jobs for more than 7 million workers and accounts for 5 percent of the nation's GDP." Softwood lumber imports from Canada account for some 35 percent of U.S. softwood lumber consumption. It is primarily used in framing for homes, including manufactured housing. The supply of softwood lumber in the U.S. has continued to decline over the past 20 years, and much of the supply has been prevented from logging since it is on public lands. A handful of U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Sierra Pacific, Potlatch and Temple Inland, along with southern landholders, petitioned Commerce to impose the duties when the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement expired in April. That agreement put quota restrictions on the amount of lumber imported into the U.S. Commerce subsequently issued a preliminary ruling on August 10 that put the 19.3 percent duty in place on Canadian softwood lumber imports. "Expiration of the quota agreement was a positive development for home builders, lumber dealers, and consumers of lumber products, and specifically for affordable housing in America," Petniunas said. "However the countervailing duty is nothing more than a 20 percent federal sales tax being imposed on homebuyers. This, and any additional anti-dumping duties could add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home. This would be especially problematic for families seeking to purchase their first home, and for the elderly looking for more affordable housing, and for the elderly looking for more affordable housing. According to U.S. Census Bureau calculations, the additional cost of these duties could price as many as a half million families out of the mortgage market." The ACAH letter to President Bush said: "The Commerce Department action is even more troubling when you compare it to your Administration's strong free trade position on many other global issues. Supporting this strong free trade position are over 100 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Representing all political spectrums, these lawmakers are calling for open lumber markets between the U.S. and Canada." The U.S. economy would have contracted in the second quarter without the growth in housing investment. "With the fragile nature of our economy, and the importance of the housing sector, ACAH is asking the President to confer with Secretary Evans and reverse the Commerce Department's egregious preliminary decision, and to move our two countries to free trade under NAFTA," Petniunas said. A similar appeal was made recently by two ACAH member organizations, Manufactured Housing Institute and Manufacturing Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, pointing out that the cost of a manufactured home has increased by as much as $2,000 since the duties were imposed. The average cost of a manufactured home is $43,600. The manufactured housing builders rely on softwood lumber from Canada since southern yellow pine does not have the characteristics required for this type of construction. 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 7 million workers are associated with the consumers of lumber and outnumber lumber-producing workers by 25 to 1 in the United States. 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.

10/02/2001
Administration Trade Policy Against Canada Significantly Harms Manufactured Housing Buyers According to ACAH
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Administration Trade Policy Against Canada Significantly Harms Manufactured Housing Buyers According to ACAH

Administration Trade Policy Against Canada Significantly Harms Manufactured Housing Buyers According to ACAH

09/19/2001
U.S. Consumer Reps Meet with B.C. Premier, Minister of Forests
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U.S. Consumer Reps Meet with B.C. Premier, Minister of Forests

Several representatives of U.S. consumer and business groups opposed to any new tariffs on Canadian Lumber imports to the U.S. are in Victoria and Vancouver today to meet with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, Forest Minister Mike de Jong, and members of the B.C. Government Caucus Committee on Natural Resources, a delegation of mayors and several forest company executives in the Province. "Our message is simple," said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the 15-member alliance, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). "We are here urging that Canada and specifically British Columbia, resist negotiating any new trade restraint on softwood lumber exports to the U.S., and that it vigorously join U.S. consumers in continuing to fight recent duties imposed by the Bush Administration. The recent countervailing duty determinations totally political, violates major NAFTA and WTO provisions, and was done in such a way to try and force Canada to once again cower at the negotiating table." The delegation today included leadership from the National Association of Home Builders, National Lumber and Building Materials Association, The Home Depot, and CHEP USA. They 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 recently sent a letter to President Bush expressing their support for U.S. consumer interests instead of the protectionist interests of a segment of the U.S. industry. ACAH members represent more than 95 percent of the U.S. consumption of softwood lumber from Canada. Bobby Rayburn, a home builder from Jackson, Miss., and vice president/secretary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said: "NAHB is strongly opposed to any tariffs on Canadian lumber imports. The U.S. Commerce Department's preliminary determination to impose a 19 percent levy will add up to $1,000 to the cost of building a typical new home. U.S. home builders and other domestic industries that depend on Canadian lumber will work very hard to ensure that it is freely traded between the U.S. and Canada." "The recent Commerce decision stands to drastically injure the ability of many U.S. lumber dealers to stay in business," said Mike Fritz, president of Rugg Lumber Co. with lumberyards in Greenfield and Northampton, Massachusetts. He is the chair-elect of the National Lumber and Building Materials Association that represents 9,000 locally owned lumber dealer firms throughout the U.S. "In our industry, contracts are written 3 to 12 months in advance in most cases. A 19 percent tax means that lumber dealers will have to absorb all of this added cost, making it much more difficult for yards struggling with 2-3 percent margins to stay afloat." 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. Fritz added that he felt confident that, "as this case moves forward the ITC and WTO will see right through the numerous and obvious holes in the decision, and invalidate the injustice done August 10. Unfortunately, it will be too late for many lumber dealers and too late for many home builders and new home buyers. When reversed, the U.S. will be forced to refund money collected through the unjust tariff, but lumber dealers and homebuyers will not see refund checks on higher prices they are forced to pay to subsidize the inefficiency and greed of some U.S. producers. The damage to consumers is already done." The Home Depot representative, Steve Conwell, Global Product Merchant for Lumber, told government officials that the uses of Canadian softwood lumber cannot be met by the U.S. supply, and that southern yellow pine is no substitute for Canadian spruce pine fir for most construction needs. "Quite frankly, if we cannot get the types of softwood lumber our customers need, we will look elsewhere. Canada is the logical trading partner for this product, and ending trade restraints is critical." In the U.S., The Home Depot has stores in 48 states, and operations in Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada. "As an international company, CHEP strongly believes that free trade in lumber, or anything else, benefits consumers on both sides of the US-Canadian border. In contrast, trade restraints hurt everyone," said Scott Cameron of CHEP USA. "The acquisition cost of the millions of pallets that CHEP buys and then rents every year has gone up in reaction to concerns about unjustified countervailing duties and dumping penalties. These higher costs are passed on to CHEP customers, who use our pallets to ship groceries, fresh produce, and other consumer goods to retail stores. American families and senior citizens are paying for these higher costs at the grocery store checkout counter. Trade restraints amount to nothing less than an unprecedented and regressive national sales tax on food and other essential goods purchased by American consumers. Because it is a regressive tax, it hits less wealthy Americans the hardest," concluded Cameron. Petniunas said that while some characterize this as a lumber producer's issue, "it clearly is not. Consumer viewpoints have been ignored in all prior considerations of this issue, but clearly consumers bear the brunt of any trade restraint imposed. If the 19 percent countervailing duty is not overturned, and the anti-dumping request for duties of 39 percent were to be imposed, more than one million American families will be unable to qualify for mortgages to buy a new home. Most impacted are first-time homebuyers and seniors moving to a more affordable retirement housing. Consumer views must be considered in what we hope will be a fair, open process." Other U.S. alliance members include 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 Retail Federation, and the United States Hispanic Contractors Association.

08/21/2001

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