NAFTA Decision Seen as Win for Housing Industry

NAFTA Decision Seen as Win for Housing Industry

Washington, DC A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) panel decision stating once again that U.S. lumber producers are not threatened with injury from Canadian trade practices represents "an important win for housing affordability, free trade and millions of domestic lumber consumers who are already feeling the pinch of soaring prices," according to the nation's home builders.

The NAFTA panel ruled last month that allegations made by domestic lumber suppliers that they were being harmed by Canadian lumber imports "are baseless and contrary to law," said the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
The entire matter stems from a 2002 ITC ruling that the U.S. lumber industry was threatened with injury by Canadian lumber imports. The ITC action allowed the Commerce Dept. to impose countervailing and anti-dumping duties averaging 27% on Canadian softwood lumber shipments into the U.S., the NAHB said.

Last fall, however, NAFTA determined that the ITC did not provide adequate explanation or support for its decision on threat of injury, and gave the ITC 100 days to reconsider the case. The NAFTA verdict released last month rejects the ITC's finding, and says it "is not in accordance with the law and is not supported by substantial evidence," according to the NAHB.

The Washington, DC-based NAHB called on the Bush Administration "not to engage in any legal delays and to allow the implementation of this decision. It's high time to roll back the 27% duties on Canadian lumber and end the hidden tax imposed on American home buyers and renters," said NAHB president Bobby Rayburn.

The NAHB has contended that the rising price of lumber significantly impacts both new residential construction and remodeling. With the price of framing lumber now at $451 per 1,000 board feet up 40% from the beginning of the year Rayburn said the NAFTA decision "could not have come at a more opportune time."

"It is absurd for U.S. lumber producers to complain they are being harmed by legitimate competition from Canada," he said.