NAFTA Panel Accepts NAHB Amicus Brief on Softwood Lumber Dispute

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In a positive development regarding the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber trade dispute, the NAFTA Binational Panel on March 25 granted NAHB’s motion to participate as an amicus (friend) in support of Canada’s challenge of the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Canadian lumber imports into the United States. The combined duties average more than 20%, and increase volatility in the lumber market and harm housing affordability. The ITC and domestic lumber producers had filed objections to NAHB’s motion, but the NAFTA panel accepted NAHB’s memorandum supporting Canada’s challenge. Moreover, with respect to the usefulness of NAHB’s information, the NAFTA panel rejected arguments from the ITC and U.S. lumber firms that counsel to the other parties were perfectly capable of incorporating NAHB’s information and perspective into their own arguments. Specifically, the NAFTA panel stated: “NAHB’s perspective is that of a coalition of purchasers that account for 80% of new home construction in the United States, the primary demand driver in the industry. This perspective is unique from that of the producers with respect to the issue of substitutability, where NAHB focuses its attention, and reflects NAHB’s specialized knowledge of the facts on the record.” In its amicus brief, NAHB stressed that builders have specific preferences for Douglas Fir and Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF) over Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) in certain instances, and specifically when framing homes. SYP is not nearly as suitable for wall framing because of its tendency to twist and warp, which causes the drywall to buckle. Moreover, there is not much substitution of species because builders use what works best for them based on specific applications. In an official statement, NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde said: "We welcome the opportunity to provide this unique home building perspective to this issue. It is our hope it will serve as an impetus for the United States and Canada to hammer out a long-term solution to this problem that will satisfy all sides — including domestic industries and consumers — that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being.” For more information, contact Felicia Watson at 1-800-368-5242 x8229.

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