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U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…
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U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…

Representatives of U.S. consumer interests welcomed efforts by the Commerce Department announced yesterday to seek a long-term solution to the prolonged and complex dispute with Canada over softwood lumber imports. American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 18 large national organizations and companies representing more than 95 percent of U.S. lumber consumption, said however that it remains opposed to imposing any border measures -- import or export taxes or quotas -- that only end up harming consumers. The Commerce Department imposed 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on lumber imports last summer, duties that consumers consider a federally imposed sales tax on lumber that harms homebuyers and impacts housing affordability in the U.S. The duties were imposed at the urging of a few large U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern land owners forming the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, alleging that they had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber, based on a perceived threat to the industry, although no evidence of actual injury was found. "The new Commerce Department initiative, in the form of policy bulletins dictating forest practice changes the U.S. wants Canada to make, is certainly welcomed to restart discussions and seek a resolution to this issue" said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for ACAH. "However, we remain opposed to any efforts to tax U.S. lumber consumers, including import or export taxes." "The U.S. requires at least a third of its lumber in the form of imports, and Canada is the best source for it," she said. "We should move to free and open markets between our two countries." In the policy draft, Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas said he would seek input from lumber producers. "It is equally important that he also seek input from those who use lumber and consumer interests, something that ACAH will aggressively pursue," Petniunas said. Petniunas said that recent proposals by Seattle-based forest producer Weyerhaeuser, the British Columbia government, and the British Columbia forestry industry association also are each a long way from relieving the burden of the lumber dispute on consumers. "Some of these proposals call for Canada to drop or suspend its appeals of the U.S. countervail and antidumping duties before the World Trade Organization and the North America Free Trade Agreement panels," she said. "We believe that would be a significant error on the part of Canada. Canada has already won major decisions earlier this year, and we are convinced that if the appeals are allowed to conclude in a timely manner, Canada will win again. This is the best route to free trade in lumber, and we hope Canada will resist any temptation to stop those appeals, even if it does hold discussions or look at interim measures." She noted that the Commerce proposal clearly indicates that it is aware of the roles the appeal processes play in an eventual solution to the problem, and that the ACAH believes that one reason Commerce is pushing for a solution now is because it too believes it will continue to lose in the WTO and NAFTA. "Unfortunately, the Coalition's attempt to fix prices backfired, and lumber prices have dropped significantly," Petniunas added. "All they have succeeded in doing is creating great volatility in the market once again, and to continue their negative impact on housing affordability." "The final 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, even at lower lumber prices, may increase the average cost of a new home by as much as $1,000," she said. "Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents as many as 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages." Consumers have some strong support on Capitol Hill. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past two years, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. Industries that depend on lumber as an input and that oppose import restrictions include: manufacturers of value-added wood products, lumber dealers, manufactured and on-site home builders, and remodeling contractors and individuals. These industries employ more than 6.5 million workers, 25 to one when compared with those in the forestry industry. Members of ACAH include: American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, 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.

01/08/2003
U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…
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U.S. Efforts to Restart Discussions on Canadian Softwood Lumber Trade Welcomed by Consumers Who Remain Opposed to Any Co…

Representatives of U.S. consumer interests welcomed efforts by the Commerce Department announced yesterday to seek a long-term solution to the prolonged and complex dispute with Canada over softwood lumber imports. American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 18 large national organizations and companies representing more than 95 percent of U.S. lumber consumption, said however that it remains opposed to imposing any border measures -- import or export taxes or quotas -- that only end up harming consumers. The Commerce Department imposed 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on lumber imports last summer, duties that consumers consider a federally imposed sales tax on lumber that harms homebuyers and impacts housing affordability in the U.S. The duties were imposed at the urging of a few large U.S. producers, led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland, and southern land owners forming the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, alleging that they had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber, based on a perceived threat to the industry, although no evidence of actual injury was found. "The new Commerce Department initiative, in the form of policy bulletins dictating forest practice changes the U.S. wants Canada to make, is certainly welcomed to restart discussions and seek a resolution to this issue" said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for ACAH. "However, we remain opposed to any efforts to tax U.S. lumber consumers, including import or export taxes." "The U.S. requires at least a third of its lumber in the form of imports, and Canada is the best source for it," she said. "We should move to free and open markets between our two countries." In the policy draft, Commerce Undersecretary Grant Aldonas said he would seek input from lumber producers. "It is equally important that he also seek input from those who use lumber and consumer interests, something that ACAH will aggressively pursue," Petniunas said. Petniunas said that recent proposals by Seattle-based forest producer Weyerhaeuser, the British Columbia government, and the British Columbia forestry industry association also are each a long way from relieving the burden of the lumber dispute on consumers. "Some of these proposals call for Canada to drop or suspend its appeals of the U.S. countervail and antidumping duties before the World Trade Organization and the North America Free Trade Agreement panels," she said. "We believe that would be a significant error on the part of Canada. Canada has already won major decisions earlier this year, and we are convinced that if the appeals are allowed to conclude in a timely manner, Canada will win again. This is the best route to free trade in lumber, and we hope Canada will resist any temptation to stop those appeals, even if it does hold discussions or look at interim measures." She noted that the Commerce proposal clearly indicates that it is aware of the roles the appeal processes play in an eventual solution to the problem, and that the ACAH believes that one reason Commerce is pushing for a solution now is because it too believes it will continue to lose in the WTO and NAFTA. "Unfortunately, the Coalition's attempt to fix prices backfired, and lumber prices have dropped significantly," Petniunas added. "All they have succeeded in doing is creating great volatility in the market once again, and to continue their negative impact on housing affordability." "The final 27 percent countervailing and antidumping duties on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, even at lower lumber prices, may increase the average cost of a new home by as much as $1,000," she said. "Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents as many as 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages." Consumers have some strong support on Capitol Hill. More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate have signed resolutions or written letters to President George W. Bush over the past two years, indicating their support for free trade in lumber, and urging no new taxes or penalties on consumers. Industries that depend on lumber as an input and that oppose import restrictions include: manufacturers of value-added wood products, lumber dealers, manufactured and on-site home builders, and remodeling contractors and individuals. These industries employ more than 6.5 million workers, 25 to one when compared with those in the forestry industry. Members of ACAH include: American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, Fremont Forest Group Corporation, 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.

01/08/2003
Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber
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Trade Commission Urged to Focus on Consumers in Taking Action Related to Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH) today called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to focus on how border taxes, quotas, price controls and other trade distorting measures, particularly the 27 percent duties recently imposed on Canadian

12/05/2002
Congressional Resolutions Urge Bush: End 27 Percent Federal Tax On Canadian Lumber Imports Essential for Homes, Other Uses
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Congressional Resolutions Urge Bush: End 27 Percent Federal Tax On Canadian Lumber Imports Essential for Homes, Other Uses

Congressmen Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) have introduced an updated concurrent resolution calling on President George W. Bush to pursue discussions with the Canadian Government to "promote open trade between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber, free of trade restraints that harm consumers." The resolution aims to: ensure a competitive North American market for softwood lumber; ensure free trade regarding softwood lumber between the U.S. and Canada;

10/16/2002
New Senate Bi-Partisan Resolution Urges President Bush To Promote Open Lumber Trade Between U.S. and Canada
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New Senate Bi-Partisan Resolution Urges President Bush To Promote Open Lumber Trade Between U.S. and Canada

A bi-partisan resolution (Sen. Con. Res. 135) introduced in the U. S. Senate late yesterday (Thursday) by Senators Don Nickles (R-OK), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Bob Graham (D-FL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Jean Carnahan (D-MO) urges President Bush to pursue discussions with the Canadian Government to "promote open trade between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber, free of trade restraints that harm consumers." The World Trade Organization (WTO) found on July 26 that the Department of Commerce action imposing preliminary countervailing duties a year ago on Canadian softwood lumber imports should be overturned, and is in violation of WTO's rules. That announcement is expected to be officially made next month and could be followed by three months of appeals. A similar WTO challenge has been made by Canada on the preliminary antidumping duties and is expected to be known in August. Today's resolution asks the Administration not to intervene to impede the current challenges by Canada in the WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to determine whether the U.S. countervailing and antidumping duties are legal under international trade rules. The duties are harming U.S. consumers, according to ACAH spokesperson Susan Petniunas. "The final 27 percent countervail and antidumping duties imposed last May on finished lumber for framing homes and remodeling, may increase the average cost of a new home by more than $1,000," she said. Based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau, that additional $1,000 prevents more than 300,000 families from qualifying for home mortgages." The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed the duties in May after the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that there was a potential for a "threat" to U.S. lumber producers from Canadian lumber imports. The ITC also concluded, however, that there was no evidence that Canadian lumber imports had harmed the U.S. industry at that time. The duties have been opposed by a broad-based alliance of consumer groups, trade organizations, and companies that represent more than 95 percent of U.S. softwood lumber consumption, American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). "The duties amount to a federally imposed 27 percent sales tax on first-time homebuyers," said Petniunas. "Consumers' interests should be a major factor considered by the Administration, and we appreciate the Senators urging President Bush to do so," Petniunas said. "These duties hurt our ability to provide affordable housing, and jobs within lumber consuming industries." Because there are not enough trees available to produce framing lumber for home building in the U.S., Canadian lumber imports are absolutely vital for the construction of affordable new homes, and to make improvements on existing homes in America. The U.S. relies on Canada and other sources for approximately 37 percent of the lumber it needs. Led by International Paper, Potlatch, Plum Creek, Sierra Pacific, Temple Inland and southern landowners, the Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports filed petitions with the U.S. Commerce Department more than a year ago alleging that domestic lumber producers had been harmed by Canadian softwood lumber imports and asking for countervailing and antidumping duties. "Since 1983, some of the large U.S. producers and landowners have periodically charged Canada with subsidizing its lumber industry, and they have consistently lost when Canada has appealed preliminary decisions," Petniunas said. "The July 26 WTO ruling that there is no illegal subsidy of lumber by Canada continues to show that the U.S. actions are not based on the facts. We believe the Commerce Department will continue to get failing grades from on-going WTO and NAFTA reviews of their actions over the past year." Similar resolutions were introduced last year and the year before urging free trade on Canadian lumber. H. Con. Res. 45 and S. Con. Res. 4 garnered more than 110 sponsors. Members of the U.S. House and Senate also have written letters to President Bush over the past three years opposing any trade restrictions on Canadian lumber and indicating their support for free trade in lumber between the U.S. and Canada. "It's time for our trade policy to reflect fairness to all of the stakeholders, including consumers, in discussions about trade in lumber," said Sen. Nickles. ACAH members include American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Catamount Pellet Fuel Corporation, CHEP International, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for World Trade, Freemont Forest Group Corporation, 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.

08/02/2002
U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Applaud WTO Decision Against Duties On Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports Essential for …
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U.S. Consumer and Business Groups Applaud WTO Decision Against Duties On Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports Essential for …

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

07/26/2002