Homebuilders denounce tariff on Canada's softwood lumber

Homebuilders denounce tariff on Canada's softwood lumber
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A lobbing group for homebuilders on Tuesday denounced the Trump administration's move to slap tariffs on Canada’s softwood lumber industry in the long-running trade dispute.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said the Commerce Department’s decision to levy a 20 percent countervailing duty on Canadian lumber imports will raise prices on housing and harm U.S. consumers.

"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 homebuilder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.

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Homebuilders said that 33 percent of the lumber used in the U.S. last year was imported and more than 95 percent of that supply came from Canada.

"This means that imports are essential for the construction of affordable new homes and to make improvements on existing homes," MacDonald said.

Although former President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed in June to resolve the issue, the two nations failed to reach a final agreement.

Without a deal, lumber prices have risen 22 percent since the beginning of the year, which has added almost $3,600 to the price of a new home.

NAHB is urging the U.S. and Canada to work together to achieve a long-term solution that provides for a consistent policy on the price of lumber.

Builders also called for increasing domestic production by boosting timber sales from publicly owned lands, opening up more federal forest for logging in an environmentally sustainable way and reducing 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," MacDonald said.

On Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the duties would amount to about $1 billion on softwood lumber.

"It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations,” Ross said in a statement.

The Commerce Department’s decision also brought a strong rebuke from the Canadian government, which vowed Monday evening to “vigorously defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, including through litigation."