Home builders seek White House action on soaring lumber prices
August 14, 2020 | 4:54 pm UTC
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) penned a letter to President Trump expressing the housing industry’s growing concern and seeking prompt action regarding soaring lumber prices and supply shortages that are harming the housing sector and the economy.
The Association urged the president to call on domestic lumber producers to ramp up production. It also called for prioritization of a new softwood lumber agreement with Canada, which would end tariffs averaging more than 20 percent on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S.
"As the nation fights to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, particularly single-family construction, with permits running 3.4 percent higher during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019," the NAHB wrote on its website.
"However, builders are seeing shortages of lumber resulting in an 80 percent increase in lumber prices since mid-April. Framing lumber prices reached a record high in late July, while oriented strand board prices have increased 138% over the past year. These sharp increases are unsustainable, particularly in light of the housing affordability crisis."
The NAHB stressed in its letter that housing can do its part to create jobs and lead the economy forward - but that action is required to do so.
NAHB recently sent a similar message to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.
The letter to U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer carried a similar message: antidumping and countervailing duties currently in place on imported softwood lumber from Canada are aggravating already high lumber prices, and tariffs on other products are also contributing to higher construction costs leading to more expensive housing.
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