Craig Webb

Amidst a backdrop of record high lumber prices, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is seeking to address supply chain disruptions and tariffs that are contributing to price volatility. The NAHB has sent letters to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Zoltan van Heyningen, the executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

The NAHB is seeking a meeting with Secretary Ross to discuss strategies to ease market concerns, including urging domestic lumber producers to increase lumber production to address shortages that are contributing to soaring prices. The NAHB is also calling for Secretary Ross to resume negotiating with Canada and redouble efforts to reach a new softwood lumber agreement as tariffs on Canada lumber imports into the U.S. are averaging more than 20%.

In its letter to U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, the NAHB highlighted how antidumping and countervailing duties currently in place on imported softwood lumber from Canada are aggravating lumber prices.

“Today, we reiterate our concerns that the ongoing dispute remains unresolved, leading to further disruptions in the consistent supply and availability of lumber for housing,” NAHB’s letter to Lighthizer, shared on its Eye on Housing blog, stated. "We know there are many pressing trade matters affecting the U.S. economy, but the softwood lumber dispute is one that should not be left on the back burner. Lumber supply, housing affordability, and an industry with the potential to lead the U.S. out of the current pandemic-induced recession should not be ignored. We urge the USTR to work with Canada to develop a workable and long-term solution to a trade dispute that has continued for more than 37 years.”

In its letter to the U.S. Lumber Coalition, the NAHB is asking for increased production to ease supply constraints currently faced by trade professionals and consumers.

Prices have soared since mills closed early in spring due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures enacted by state and local governments. Mills anticipated a large drop in demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and decreased capacity utilization. However, demand soared during the pandemic, causing an imbalance in supply and demand and a subsequent spike in lumber prices.