Proposed Lumber Pact Seen Harming Home
Washington, DC A proposed quota settlement of the longstanding
U.S./Canada softwood lumber dispute “represents a blow to free
trade that would harm consumers, housing affordability and millions
of workers in lumber-dependent industries,” the National
Association of Home Builders has charged.
The proposed pact, now under discussion by U.S. and Canadian
officials, is designed to replace the current situation in which
Canadian lumber firms are paying across-the-board duties averaging
27%. Canada has challenged the legality of the U.S.-imposed
Last year, Canadian softwood lumber imports totaled nearly 34%
of the U.S. market. Under the proposed accord, Canadian shipments
above 31.5% would be subject to a punitive tariff of $200 per 1,000
board feet (or about 65% of the average value), “effectively
imposing an inflexible ceiling on imports [and] restricting
competition in the marketplace,” the NAHB charged.
“Artificially capping Canada’s duty-free share of the U.S.
market and then charging prohibitive tariffs will limit lumber
supplies and raise [softwood] costs,” said NAHB president Bobby
Rayburn. “It is essentially a hidden tax on U.S. home buyers and
A typical new home requires about 16,000 board feet of framing
lumber, the NAHB noted, adding that the proposed new tax “could add
thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home, which in turn would
bump out of the market many borderline buyers.” It could also
greatly increase the cost for remodeling, the NAHB said, adding
that it would be “impossible” to meet current housing demand
without the imports in question.