Washington, DC A recent ruling by the International Trade Commission triggering tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports "will harm housing affordability by acting as a hidden tax on American home buyers and renters," the National Association of Home Builders charged last month.
However, NAHB expressed optimism that the duties will ultimately be overturned by international review panels, "allowing American consumers to win in the long-run."
"The ITC's vote that the U.S. lumber industry was threatened with injury by imports from Canada represents a blow for free trade that will create windfall gains for timber barons at the expense of American home buyers," said NAHB v.p. Bobby Rayburn.
The 27% tariffs on Canadian lumber imports, set to go into effect last month, would add more than $1,000 to the cost of building a new home, stated the Washington, DC-based NAHB, which has lobbied strongly against the tariff.
Home building and remodeling account for two-thirds of domestic lumber consumption, and lumber is the primary material used in home building. Due to the limited amount of trees available in the U.S. to produce the lumber needed for home building, Canadian lumber imports "are essential for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America," the NAHB stated.
"Without access to Canadian spruce-pine-fir, which is used primarily for framing walls in homes because of its performance in producing walls that remain straight, builders may look to other materials such as steel, insulated concrete forms and masonry," Rayburn said. "If lumber prices go up, the number of home buyers goes down, which hurts not only home builders and their employees, but also many sectors of the economy and communities that we support.".