The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently denounced the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose a 20 percent countervailing duty on Canadian lumber imports, saying it will harm American home buyers, consumers and businesses while failing to resolve the underlying trade dispute between the two nations.
“NAHB is deeply disappointed in this short-sighted action by the U.S. Department of Commerce that will ultimately do nothing to resolve issues causing the U.S.-Canadian lumber trade dispute but will negatively harm American consumers and housing affordability,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.
Thirty-three percent of the lumber used in the U.S. last year was imported. The bulk of the imported lumber — more than 95 percent — came from Canada.
“This means that imports are essential for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes,” said MacDonald.
The trade agreement that has governed Canadian imports of softwood lumber since 2006 effectively expired at the end of 2016. Uncertainty surrounding a new trade pact is the primary catalyst for the 22 percent spike in the Random Lengths Composite Price Index for lumber since the beginning of the year.
These price hikes have negative repercussions for millions of Americans. It takes about 15,000 board feet to build a typical single-family home and the lumber price increase in the first quarter of this year has added almost $3,600 to the price of a new home.
NAHB believes the best way to resolve this trade impasse and avoid these negative economic repercussions is to:
- Urge the U.S. and Canada to work cooperatively to achieve a long-term, stable solution in lumber trade that provides for a consistent and fairly priced supply of lumber.
- Increase 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.
“Taking these steps to meet our nation’s lumber needs is essential because tariffs needlessly increase the volatility of the lumber markets, resulting in higher prices for U.S. home buyers and other consumers and businesses who use lumber,” said MacDonald.