CITAC: INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION LUMBER VOTE UNDERSCORES
NEED FOR REFORM OF TRADE LAWS
Washington, DC - CITAC's Chairman Jon Jenson said today that downstream industries are disappointed in another adverse ruling from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). On May 2, the ITC ruled that the U.S. softwood lumber industry is "threatened" with injury by imports from Canada. The ITC decision clears the way for duties of approximately 27%, resulting from antidumping and countervailing duty cases, to be implemented.
The ITC's decision came as no surprise to downstream users of softwood lumber, U.S. homebuilders and retail lumber consumers. These U.S. manufacturers were not granted access to the ITC investigation record and their views were not adequately taken into account during the proceedings.
"If U.S. businesses that need Canadian lumber were included as full participants in the Department of Commerce and the ITC proceedings, the result might well have been different," Jenson said. "As it is, we expect Canadian interests to appeal this decision to the U.S. courts or the NAFTA dispute system, and to contest these findings in the World Trade Organization too. But consuming industries will have no role in the resolution of this case, because they are wrongly excluded from the process."
America's homebuilders rely extensively on softwood lumber from Canada. The U.S. supplies are scarce and of the wrong specifications for the bulk of home building requirements, as lumber consumers pointed out in the ITC hearings. The Commission unfortunately chose to ignore these issues and to take action that will make lumber less available to U.S. homebuilders and others who need rely on imported lumber. The duties will raise new home prices enough to deny 300,000 to 450,000 families the chance to buy their first home.
To remedy this unacceptable situation, CITAC has proposed legislation, currently pending in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2770), that would give consuming industries (downstream purchasers in the U.S.) standing to participate in antidumping, countervailing duty and Safeguards (Section 201) cases and to appeal adverse results to the courts.
"Under the current statute, only U.S. and foreign producers of the product (and U.S. importers of record) are allowed to see the full content of the proceedings and to appeal adverse decisions. Consuming industries, who pay the bills for protectionism, are effectively shut out of the process, though they can submit comments and observe," said Lewis Leibowitz, CITAC Counsel. "H.R. 2770 could have saved the country quite a bit of delay and expense, by increasing the chances that the Department of Commerce and the ITC would have gotten this case right the first time."
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.