CITAC CHAIRMAN JENSON URGES INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION
CITAC urged ITC Commissioners to seriously consider warnings by American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH). The group testified before the ITC today that restrictions on Canadian lumber imports unfairly injure lumber consuming industries, their workers and individual American consumers.
"ACAH and CITAC are working together to eliminate restrictions on the imports of softwood lumber from Canada", said Jenson. "Any new quotas, taxes or fees would endanger the competitiveness of homebuilders, lumber dealers, furniture manufacturers and many other American companies and threaten the jobs of some six million workers they employ."
The countervailing duty and dumping cases filed by the domestic industry only days after the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) expired at the end of March 2001, allege government subsidization of the Canadian lumber industry and call for the imposition of duties up to 78 percent. The SLA, which came into affect April 1, 1996 for a period of five years, amounted to a hidden lumber tax on U.S. consumers that prevented an estimated 300,000 American families from buying new homes. The petitions now before the ITC would add approximately $2,000 - $4,000 to a new home, which according to U.S. Census statistics, could exclude 1.2 million American families from the housing market.
"Consumers have limited opportunities to participate in the ITC process, and that is why CITAC is urging the ITC to carefully consider the testimony of ACAH," stated Jenson. "U.S. businesses that purchase domestic and imported products should have full party status in these types of cases, including the right to comment on all the evidence presented."
CITAC is advocating reforms to U.S. trade law that would make consuming industries (purchasers) full parties to trade cases. CITAC's proposed reforms also would provide for an examination of whether the imposition of countervailing duties or antidumping duties, would be contrary to the public interest, and limit antidumping and countervailing duties to the amount necessary to offset the injury suffered by the affected U.S. industry (the "lesser duty" rule). In addition, the reforms would provide U.S. consuming industries with an effective and fair mechanism for temporary relief from antidumping and countervailing duties for products unavailable from domestic sources or in short supply.
According to Jenson, "Canada clearly has a comparative advantage in lumber, so the best scenario for lumber consumers and homebuyers is open trade in lumber. If the domestic industry persists in trying to hinder trade in lumber, our government should make certain that the process is fair, transparent and open to all affected parties. Without the participation of consuming interests, fairness is not possible."
CITAC is a coalition of companies and organizations committed to promoting a trade arena where U.S. consuming industries and their workers have access to global markets for imports that enhance the international competitiveness of U.S. firms.