At the behest of NAHB, 84 members of Congress this week sent a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expressing urgent concern regarding the Commerce Department’s recent decision to double tariffs on softwood lumber products from Canada. The letter also calls on the United States to resume talks with Canada to negotiate a new softwood lumber trade agreement.
NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke applauded the bipartisan group of lawmakers for “taking a stand for housing and homeownership.” “The current situation is clearly untenable, with lumber duties of 18% exacerbating severe price volatility and making it difficult for millions of Americans to afford a home,” Fowke said. “It should be noted that the congressional letter does not take sides in this trade dispute, but rather highlights the urgent need to reach a balanced agreement that would ‘provide predictability to home builders and job security for the millions of hardworking Americans who apply their skills every day in the construction industry.’ Removing costly lumber duties would also be an important step forward to resolve the building material supply chain bottlenecks that are delaying construction projects and raising the cost of housing.”
Although lumber prices began a sharp decline from their record high in May, it took months for a meaningful portion of those price reductions to reach the construction industry and its customers. Unfortunately, prices began rising again in September and have increased substantially in recent weeks.
“Historically high lumber and building material prices continue to imperil the U.S. housing sector and the jobs of the skilled workers in this sector,” the letter to Sec. Raimondo stated. “Housing construction is an important contributor to the U.S. economy, especially as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this success is at risk as the construction industry faces a dramatic increase in the costs of materials.”
The congressional letter to Sec. Raimondo does not take sides in this trade dispute. It simply highlights the urgent need for the United States and Canada to renew negotiations in an effort to come to an equitable solution that will satisfy all sides — including domestic industries and consumers — that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being.
“Such an agreement would be in the interests of the United States because it would provide predictability to home builders and job security for the millions of hardworking Americans who apply their skills every day in the construction industry,” the lawmakers stated. “Resolving this matter in a balanced way would help the economy recover from the disruptions of the past year.” Read the letter.
For more information, contact Alex Strong at 800-368-5242 x8279.