Statement by American Consumers for Affordable Homes*

An ad-hoc alliance of 14 national organizations including consumers, home

builders, retailers, which represents more than 95 percent of the domestic

consumption of lumber



Apr 02, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Consumers for Affordable Homes

    WASHINGTON, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH) believes that the planned April 2 action by the protectionist
 lobby for U.S. forest products companies, the Coalition for Fair Lumber
 Imports (filing a countervailing duty claiming 40 percent damage) could result
 in nothing more than one more hidden tax on U. S. consumers of 40 percent on
 every piece of lumber or lumber products they purchase for new homes,
 remodeling, beds, window frames, and a wide range of other products. It's
 another disguised version of the same negative impact of the expired
 U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA).
     ACAH applauds the Bush Administration and the Canadian Federal Government
 for their decision to allow the SLA to expire. We do not support any renewal
 or interim agreement that would impose new forms of trade restraints or new
 taxes on lumber consumers.
     We believe now is the time to allow the concepts in NAFTA and the WTO to
 work for softwood lumber. We believe there are existing remedies to solve
 disputes and believe these remedies should be followed. However, common sense
 must be used in applying these remedies, and a 40 percent duty claim is
 ludicrous. We encourage the Commerce Department to conduct a fair, transparent
 and open process that includes the interests of millions of U.S. consumers as
 it reviews proposed petitions. The SLA kept 300,000 families out of the
 housing market each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Now that the
 SLA has expired, and the U.S. Government must consider the interests of U.S.
 consumers.
 
      * The first three paragraphs of this statement may be attributed to Susan
        Petniunas, ACAH adviser.
 
      -- A 40 percent countervailing duty is wrong and a threat to bully
         Canadians
 
         "Such a claim cannot be justified by looking at the facts
         objectively," said Bruce Smith, a home builder from Walnut Creek,
         Calif., and president of the National Association of Home Builders, an
         ACAH member.
 
         "The charges that Canadians subsidize their lumber production have
         been rejected in all three previous countervailing duty cases by U.S.
         government agencies and international panels," Smith explained. He
         also noted that the threat of the 40 percent countervailing duty is
         being used by a handful of American lumber companies to bully
         Canadians into accepting some sort of backroom deal-a move that should
         be avoided at all costs.
 
      -- Can't Continue to Protect Producers at Expense of Ordinary Americans
 
         "We cannot continue to protect domestic producers at the expense of so
         many ordinary Americans on the mere allegation of subsidies," said
         Robert J. Verdisco, president, International Mass Retail Association,
         which is the world's leading alliance of retailers and their product
         and service supplies, including The Home Depot. IMRA is also an ACAH
         member.
 
         "If there is an issue of subsidies in Canada, let the U.S. domestic
         industry prove its case before the Commerce Department and the U.S.
         International Trade Commission. Those bodies are set up to discover
         the real facts about this case. The U.S. process, while by no means
         perfect, at least preserves some opportunities for some affected
         industries to participate in the process."
 
      -- End Back-Room Deals; Allow Process to Operate in Transparent Way
 
         "The fact that U.S. special interests want to try to negotiate some
         kind of back-room deal, excluding the participation of consumers and
         other industries that use wood products, indicates that they aren't so
         sure they have the facts to prove their allegations," said Robin
         Lanier, executive director, Consumers for World Trade, another ACAH
         member. "We've asked the President (Bush) to stand by U.S. trade law
         and allow those laws to operate in a transparent and dispassionate
         way."
 
      -- New 40 Percent Tax on Consumers Will Be Deemed 'Outrageous'
 
         "Believing that free trade is ultimately in the best interest of
         millions of American consumers of softwood lumber, the National Lumber
         Building Material Dealers (NLBMDA) has always argued that disputes
         over trade practices between nations need to be resolved through fair,
         open, unbiased and established legal procedures, not through
         protectionist trade agreements-which ultimately do nothing to resolve
         the issues causing the dispute, while all the while negatively
         impacting American consumers," said Jenna Morgan, Director of
         Government Affairs at NLBMDA.
 
         "As April 2, 2001 dawns, the NLBMDA fully expects the domestic
         producers to file countervailing duty and anti-dumping cases against
         the Canadian industry. While we, as major consumers of softwood
         lumber, do not relish the potential market disruptions caused by such
         cases, we anticipate that they will provide the appropriate forum for
         a discussion of the trade issues between our two nations. We are
         certain that once the facts are heard, threats of a 40 percent tax
         resulting from subsidy finding-as the domestic producers'
         representatives have been quoted as seeking-will be deemed outrageous.
 
         "As our industry moves forward during the ensuing months of the legal
         cases, we sincerely hope that all those involved in the legal review
         will keep an unbiased eye toward finding the true facts regarding our
         trade issues."
 
      -- Easing Restrictions on Canadian Lumber Will Mean More Lumber Available
         to Builders and Homeowners
 
         Easing restrictions on Canadian softwood will ultimately help
         retailers sell more lumber to builders and homeowners with weekend
         home improvement projects, according to The Home Depot.
 
         "The Home Depot ... supports the expiration of the U.S.-Canada
         Softwood Lumber Agreement in the interest of free trade and
         maintaining affordable lumber for its customers. "The company believes
         that this will ensure a stable, affordable and consistent supply of
         lumber."
 
    ACAH spokespeople are available today or throughout the week. To arrange
               interviews, contact Susan Petniunas, 703-307-2957
 
     ACAH is an ad hoc alliance of l4 national organizations representing, home
 builders, retailers, consumers and other proponents of free lumber trade. The
 group represents over 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber in the
 U.S. The mission of ACAH is to promote trade policies that enhance affordable
 housing. For further information on ACAH, see http://www.acah.org .
 
 

SOURCE American Consumers for Affordable Homes
    WASHINGTON, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH) believes that the planned April 2 action by the protectionist
 lobby for U.S. forest products companies, the Coalition for Fair Lumber
 Imports (filing a countervailing duty claiming 40 percent damage) could result
 in nothing more than one more hidden tax on U. S. consumers of 40 percent on
 every piece of lumber or lumber products they purchase for new homes,
 remodeling, beds, window frames, and a wide range of other products. It's
 another disguised version of the same negative impact of the expired
 U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement of 1996 (SLA).
     ACAH applauds the Bush Administration and the Canadian Federal Government
 for their decision to allow the SLA to expire. We do not support any renewal
 or interim agreement that would impose new forms of trade restraints or new
 taxes on lumber consumers.
     We believe now is the time to allow the concepts in NAFTA and the WTO to
 work for softwood lumber. We believe there are existing remedies to solve
 disputes and believe these remedies should be followed. However, common sense
 must be used in applying these remedies, and a 40 percent duty claim is
 ludicrous. We encourage the Commerce Department to conduct a fair, transparent
 and open process that includes the interests of millions of U.S. consumers as
 it reviews proposed petitions. The SLA kept 300,000 families out of the
 housing market each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Now that the
 SLA has expired, and the U.S. Government must consider the interests of U.S.
 consumers.
 
      * The first three paragraphs of this statement may be attributed to Susan
        Petniunas, ACAH adviser.
 
      -- A 40 percent countervailing duty is wrong and a threat to bully
         Canadians
 
         "Such a claim cannot be justified by looking at the facts
         objectively," said Bruce Smith, a home builder from Walnut Creek,
         Calif., and president of the National Association of Home Builders, an
         ACAH member.
 
         "The charges that Canadians subsidize their lumber production have
         been rejected in all three previous countervailing duty cases by U.S.
         government agencies and international panels," Smith explained. He
         also noted that the threat of the 40 percent countervailing duty is
         being used by a handful of American lumber companies to bully
         Canadians into accepting some sort of backroom deal-a move that should
         be avoided at all costs.
 
      -- Can't Continue to Protect Producers at Expense of Ordinary Americans
 
         "We cannot continue to protect domestic producers at the expense of so
         many ordinary Americans on the mere allegation of subsidies," said
         Robert J. Verdisco, president, International Mass Retail Association,
         which is the world's leading alliance of retailers and their product
         and service supplies, including The Home Depot. IMRA is also an ACAH
         member.
 
         "If there is an issue of subsidies in Canada, let the U.S. domestic
         industry prove its case before the Commerce Department and the U.S.
         International Trade Commission. Those bodies are set up to discover
         the real facts about this case. The U.S. process, while by no means
         perfect, at least preserves some opportunities for some affected
         industries to participate in the process."
 
      -- End Back-Room Deals; Allow Process to Operate in Transparent Way
 
         "The fact that U.S. special interests want to try to negotiate some
         kind of back-room deal, excluding the participation of consumers and
         other industries that use wood products, indicates that they aren't so
         sure they have the facts to prove their allegations," said Robin
         Lanier, executive director, Consumers for World Trade, another ACAH
         member. "We've asked the President (Bush) to stand by U.S. trade law
         and allow those laws to operate in a transparent and dispassionate
         way."
 
      -- New 40 Percent Tax on Consumers Will Be Deemed 'Outrageous'
 
         "Believing that free trade is ultimately in the best interest of
         millions of American consumers of softwood lumber, the National Lumber
         Building Material Dealers (NLBMDA) has always argued that disputes
         over trade practices between nations need to be resolved through fair,
         open, unbiased and established legal procedures, not through
         protectionist trade agreements-which ultimately do nothing to resolve
         the issues causing the dispute, while all the while negatively
         impacting American consumers," said Jenna Morgan, Director of
         Government Affairs at NLBMDA.
 
         "As April 2, 2001 dawns, the NLBMDA fully expects the domestic
         producers to file countervailing duty and anti-dumping cases against
         the Canadian industry. While we, as major consumers of softwood
         lumber, do not relish the potential market disruptions caused by such
         cases, we anticipate that they will provide the appropriate forum for
         a discussion of the trade issues between our two nations. We are
         certain that once the facts are heard, threats of a 40 percent tax
         resulting from subsidy finding-as the domestic producers'
         representatives have been quoted as seeking-will be deemed outrageous.
 
         "As our industry moves forward during the ensuing months of the legal
         cases, we sincerely hope that all those involved in the legal review
         will keep an unbiased eye toward finding the true facts regarding our
         trade issues."
 
      -- Easing Restrictions on Canadian Lumber Will Mean More Lumber Available
         to Builders and Homeowners
 
         Easing restrictions on Canadian softwood will ultimately help
         retailers sell more lumber to builders and homeowners with weekend
         home improvement projects, according to The Home Depot.
 
         "The Home Depot ... supports the expiration of the U.S.-Canada
         Softwood Lumber Agreement in the interest of free trade and
         maintaining affordable lumber for its customers. "The company believes
         that this will ensure a stable, affordable and consistent supply of
         lumber."
 
    ACAH spokespeople are available today or throughout the week. To arrange
               interviews, contact Susan Petniunas, 703-307-2957
 
     ACAH is an ad hoc alliance of l4 national organizations representing, home
 builders, retailers, consumers and other proponents of free lumber trade. The
 group represents over 95 percent of the domestic consumption of lumber in the
 U.S. The mission of ACAH is to promote trade policies that enhance affordable
 housing. For further information on ACAH, see http://www.acah.org .
 
 SOURCE  American Consumers for Affordable Homes