Contact FreedomWorks

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

  • Toll Free 1.888.564.6273
  • Local 202.783.3870
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
U.S. Government Actions Threaten to Accelerate Recession, Deny Homes to Approximately 400,000 Potential Home Buyers
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

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
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW
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
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

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
null
http://d7.freedomworks.org.s3.amazonaws.com/styles/thumbnail/s3/te_social_media_share/fw_default_0.jpg?itok=mX_C44GW

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
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 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

Pages