Washington, DC Noting that different types of lumber cannot be substituted for each other without harming the quality of homes for U.S. consumers, the nation's home builders have told an independent trade panel that the Commerce Department's recent decision to impose 29% duties on imports of Canadian lumber is without merit and will harm housing affordability and also threaten the housing-led economic recovery.
"Because the types of lumber imported from Canada are significantly different from most of the lumber produced in the U.S. and used for different structural uses in home construction, enacting unjust lumber trade barriers will not protect domestic lumber producers from rightful competition with their northern neighbors," said Barry Rutenberg, a v.p. of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and chairman of the association's Building Materials Task Force.
"These punitive tariffs will drive up the cost of housing and all kinds of wood products for millions of consumers and workers in lumber-dependent industries," Rutenberg explained. "If the entire 29% border duties are reflected in U.S. prices, this will add nearly $1,500 to the cost of building a typical new home. With housing activity providing millions of jobs each year and accounting for 14% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, "this action would [clearly] threaten the very industry that is leading our economic recovery," Rutenberg asserted.
The International Trade Commission is set to issue a ruling this month on whether U.S. lumber producers have suffered injury from alleged Canadian subsidies to its industry, said the Washington, DC-based NAHB.
Home building and remodeling account for two-thirds of lumber consumption in the U.S., and lumber is the main building material used in home building.
"Since there are not enough trees available in the U.S. to produce the lumber needed for home building, Canadian lumber imports are critical for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes in America," the NAHB asserted.