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U.S. Action Urged on Supply Chain Issues

WASHINGTON, DC — A pair of prominent industry-related trade associations have issued pleas for Congress and the Biden administration to help ease global supply chain bottlenecks that are stunting housing affordability and hindering the availability of key building materials used for new construction and residential remodeling.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) last month each issued separate calls for government policymakers to eliminate current trade barriers and seek solutions to port congestion and major delays in truck and rail transportation.

Testifying before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke told government lawmakers that disruptions in the building materials supply chain exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic are having “a disproportionate” impact on smaller homebuilding firms.

“Without large economies of scale, small businesses generally cannot negotiate bulk discounts on lumber and other key building materials,” said Fowke. “The effects of this uncertainty trickle all the way to the (prospective) homebuyer, many of whom have balked at projects due to unexpected price increases.”

According to the Washington, DC-based NAHB, historically high lumber and building materials prices continue to serve as “headwinds” for the U.S. housing sector, significantly impeding housing affordability.

“From steel mill products and plastic piping to copper pipe and wood windows and doors, prices are up dramatically year-to-date and are exacerbating the growing housing affordability crisis,” Fowke said. “Until a long-term solution can be reached, Congress and the administration should temporarily suspend duties on a wide array of imported building materials and goods, from Canadian softwood lumber to Chinese steel and aluminum.

In addition, “policymakers must continue to aggressively explore solutions to ease building material supply chain disruptions that are causing project delays and putting upward pressure on home prices,” Fowke added.

Days before Fowke’s plea, AHAM joined several other trade associations in telling Congress that ongoing supply chain challenges “are hurting the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, stalling the economic recovery (and resulting in) unprecedented damage to the global product supply chain.” AHAM’s call for action came on the heels of a warning by a coalition of workers from across the supply chain that global trade is facing a potential “global transport system collapse” if governments do not restore freedom of movement to transport workers and give them priority to receive COVID vaccines approved by the World Health Organization.

“The ability to produce and deliver home appliances to consumers has been dramatically hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and other supply-related issues, creating hardships for consumers and businesses at every step in the supply chain,” said Joseph McGuire, president and CEO of AHAM. “The result is ongoing shortages of products, materials, components and labor, leading to delays and increased costs.”

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