Consumer Group Applauds Expiration of Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA); Urge Vigilance and No New Trade Restraint to Penalize Consumers, Homebuyers

* Consumers must be watchful of deals to initiate new hidden taxes

on lumber imports from Canada



* Bush administration, congress urged to oppose any new efforts

to impose quotas, export taxes, fees



Apr 01, 2001, 00:00 ET from American Consumers for Affordable Homes

    WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH), a 14-member alliance of consumer groups, home builders, and
 lumber dealers, applauded the U.S. and Canadian governments for allowing the
 U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA) to expire at midnight last
 night.  However, ACAH members today called for vigilance against any new
 proposals that would harm American consumers.
     "The quota system under the SLA amounted to a hidden lumber tax on
 U.S. lumber consumers and lumber-using industries.  Its demise is long
 overdue," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson.  "However, we must be
 watchful in the that pressures from U.S. protectionist lumber producers on the
 Bush administration and Congress do not result in re-imposing yet another
 hidden tax on homebuyers and the U.S. consumer through some new trade
 restraint."
     "Unfortunately, we may face the inevitable uncertainty that will come if
 this issue is adjudicated by the International Trade Commission when
 U.S. lumber producers seek a countervailing duty (CVD) or other trade
 restraint," the ACAH said in a letter sent today to the President and Bush
 administration and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
 The ACAH believes that action under existing U.S. trade law is the only
 appropriate course for addressing the lumber industry's complaints.
 U.S. lumber producers have tried three times before to prove their case and
 such legal processes are a better and more fair option for consumers than
 arbitrary quotas, export taxes, or other such trade restraints.
     Due to the quota on Canadian lumber coming into the United States, the
 SLA raised the cost of a new home by about $1,000.  The U.S. Census Bureau has
 estimated a price increase of that magnitude results in approximately
 300,000 families not qualifying for a mortgage each year.
     The consumer alliance called upon Senators and Representatives to continue
 to support two bipartisan resolutions urging free trade and no new trade
 restraint on lumber:  H. Con. Res. 45 was introduced in the House by
 Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and now has
 approximately 75 co-sponsors; S. Con. Res. 4 has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate.
     These resolutions express Congressional support for free trade of softwood
 lumber between the United States and Canada, inclusion of all stakeholders in
 discussions regarding trade of softwood lumber, and a competitive North
 American market for softwood lumber," the letter read.  "Further, these
 resolutions outline the negative impact of the SLA on housing affordability in
 America and that there should be no renegotiation of trade restraints -- it is
 time for free trade."
     "Softwood lumber has a huge impact on the U.S. economy.  The home building
 sector is responsible for employing more than six million workers," the letter
 continues.  "The economic health of this nation relies on a strong housing
 market and the ability to provide the American dream of home ownership.
 The ACAH encourages (members of Congress) to consider the needs of prospective
 homebuyers -- and those who are remodeling or adding to their homes-throughout
 the country on issues related to softwood lumber trade between the U.S."
     ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for
 World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass
 Retail Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for
 Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of
 Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and
 Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the
 United States Hispanic Contractors Association.
 
 

SOURCE American Consumers for Affordable Homes
    WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH), a 14-member alliance of consumer groups, home builders, and
 lumber dealers, applauded the U.S. and Canadian governments for allowing the
 U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA) to expire at midnight last
 night.  However, ACAH members today called for vigilance against any new
 proposals that would harm American consumers.
     "The quota system under the SLA amounted to a hidden lumber tax on
 U.S. lumber consumers and lumber-using industries.  Its demise is long
 overdue," said Susan Petniunas, ACAH spokesperson.  "However, we must be
 watchful in the that pressures from U.S. protectionist lumber producers on the
 Bush administration and Congress do not result in re-imposing yet another
 hidden tax on homebuyers and the U.S. consumer through some new trade
 restraint."
     "Unfortunately, we may face the inevitable uncertainty that will come if
 this issue is adjudicated by the International Trade Commission when
 U.S. lumber producers seek a countervailing duty (CVD) or other trade
 restraint," the ACAH said in a letter sent today to the President and Bush
 administration and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
 The ACAH believes that action under existing U.S. trade law is the only
 appropriate course for addressing the lumber industry's complaints.
 U.S. lumber producers have tried three times before to prove their case and
 such legal processes are a better and more fair option for consumers than
 arbitrary quotas, export taxes, or other such trade restraints.
     Due to the quota on Canadian lumber coming into the United States, the
 SLA raised the cost of a new home by about $1,000.  The U.S. Census Bureau has
 estimated a price increase of that magnitude results in approximately
 300,000 families not qualifying for a mortgage each year.
     The consumer alliance called upon Senators and Representatives to continue
 to support two bipartisan resolutions urging free trade and no new trade
 restraint on lumber:  H. Con. Res. 45 was introduced in the House by
 Representatives Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and now has
 approximately 75 co-sponsors; S. Con. Res. 4 has 10 co-sponsors in the Senate.
     These resolutions express Congressional support for free trade of softwood
 lumber between the United States and Canada, inclusion of all stakeholders in
 discussions regarding trade of softwood lumber, and a competitive North
 American market for softwood lumber," the letter read.  "Further, these
 resolutions outline the negative impact of the SLA on housing affordability in
 America and that there should be no renegotiation of trade restraints -- it is
 time for free trade."
     "Softwood lumber has a huge impact on the U.S. economy.  The home building
 sector is responsible for employing more than six million workers," the letter
 continues.  "The economic health of this nation relies on a strong housing
 market and the ability to provide the American dream of home ownership.
 The ACAH encourages (members of Congress) to consider the needs of prospective
 homebuyers -- and those who are remodeling or adding to their homes-throughout
 the country on issues related to softwood lumber trade between the U.S."
     ACAH members include CHEP USA, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Consumers for
 World Trade, Free Trade Lumber Council, The Home Depot, International Mass
 Retail Association, Leggett & Platt Inc., Manufactured Housing Association for
 Regulatory Reform, Manufactured Housing Institute, National Association of
 Home Builders, National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Lumber and
 Building Material Dealers Association, National Retail Federation, and the
 United States Hispanic Contractors Association.
 
 SOURCE  American Consumers for Affordable Homes