Members of the NAHB Board of Directors deliver an important message to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about rising lumber prices: Negotiate now.
American home builders need access to reasonably priced lumber to build homes that average working families can afford.
However, U.S. domestic production is not sufficient to meet demand. And the Trump administration's 20-percent tariffs on imported Canadian softwood lumber are needlessly increasing lumber prices.
Today's record high lumber prices are hurting home builders and home buyers. Since January 2017, rising lumber prices — made worse by the tariffs — have increased the price of an average single-family home by several thousands of dollars. This additional cost has effectively priced out more than 1.1 million households nationwide from the housing market.
What's worse, large U.S. lumber companies are unfairly profiting at the expense of American families and small businesses.
Why It Matters
The tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber are acting as a tax on American home builders and home buyers, making housing less affordable for American families and forcing builders to look overseas to other markets, including Sweden, Germany and Russia, in order to meet demand.
That is why it is imperative that the Trump administration resumes talks with Canada to find a long-term solution to the trade dispute that will ensure American home builders and consumers have access to a reliable supply of softwood lumber at reasonable prices.
America cannot meet the nation’s demand for softwood lumber, therefore, NAHB believes the following steps should be taken:
- Rescind the lumber duties and negotiate a settlement to address American home builder concerns regarding price and availability of lumber. NAHB is meeting with representatives of the Trump administration and Congress, as well as Canadian federal and provincial officials, to achieve this goal, most recently sending a letter Oct. 3 to the president asking for a return to negotiations.
- Boost domestic production by seeking higher targets for timber sales from publicly-owned lands and opening up additional federal forest lands for logging in an environmentally sustainable manner.
- Reduce U.S. lumber exports. Domestic producers are selling abroad to China and other international clients in order to increase profits. Exporting timber should be discouraged when there is a gaping need at home.
- Seek out new markets to reduce our nation’s reliance on Canadian lumber imports and make up for our domestic shortfall. NAHB met with Chilean government, trade and industry officials that focused on increasing exports of softwood lumber to America. Other potential markets include Brazil.
See the latest on Canadian softwood lumber at NAHBNow.