Talks may reopen on softwood lumber agreement

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is urging federal officials not to use the U.S.-Canadian lumber agreement as a bargaining chip during the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP) negotiations.

The United States is currently in talks with Canada regarding its participation in a TPP trade pact with several other nations. The softwood lumber accord between the United States and Canada, which expires in 2015, should not be renegotiated as part of these discussions, according to the NAHB.

“It would be highly inappropriate for discussions on the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement to include any nations,” the NAHB said in a prepared statement.

Jerry Howard, the trade group’s CEO, testified before the office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24.

"Reopening the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber agreement would jeopardize the successful negotiation of a TPP trade agreement, bogging down the talks with a century-old dispute between the United States and Canada on softwood lumber that has yet to achieve a final resolution," said Howard. "Softwood lumber issues are too important to get lost in the context of a multinational trade negotiation and must be addressed by the U.S. and Canada in a bilateral forum."

With the U.S. housing sector now showing signs of revival in scores of markets across the nation, Howard said the presence of artificial trade barriers on softwood lumber and other products and materials that go into home building can have significant economic consequences. He also noted that lumber is the most important and also the most costly material used in home building.

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