WASHINGTON – After visiting a local softwood lumber company in Ridgefield, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined a call for the Trump administration to end the softwood lumber tariff dispute with Canada. Murphy joined a letter led by U.S. Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requesting that the softwood lumber trade negotiations between the U.S. and Canada consider the impact of both consumers and producers. This ongoing trade dispute has led to record high prices for lumber due to U.S. tariffs ranging between 9 and 24 percent. In Connecticut, at least 1,129 potential homebuyers would be priced out of buying a home due to nearly $8,000 increase in home prices due to these tariffs. In addition to Murphy, the letter was signed by his colleagues U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Hoeven (R.N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

“This trade dispute isn’t good for the United States. My take away is the tariffs aren’t doing what Trump wants them to do,” Murphy said to Ridgefield Supply Company earlier this week. “We have to come to an agreement. We should sit down with the Canadians and get them to change some of their lumber practices in exchange for removing the tariffs. The problem is that President Trump is more interested in browbeating than cutting a deal.”


A copy of the letter is available here and included below:

September 11, 2018


The Honorable Wilbur Ross                                                       The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

Secretary                                                                                    Ambassador

U.S. Department of Commerce                                                 United States Trade Representative

1401 Constitution Avenue N.W.                                                600 17th Street, N.W.        

Washington DC 20230                                                                 Washington DC 20508


Dear Secretary Ross and Ambassador Lighthizer:

We write to you regarding the status of softwood lumber trade negotiations between the United States and Canada.

The United States and Canada have enjoyed a long and prosperous trade relationship that has benefited the economies of both nations. Of particular importance to this relationship has been trade in softwood lumber, or lumber commonly used for wood-frame residential construction and for interior and finishing purposes, such as window and door manufacturing.

While critical to the economies of both the United States and Canada, bilateral trade in softwood lumber has been historically contentious. Since the early 1980s, numerous disputes have disrupted trade patterns, leading to unnecessary cost increases for industries that rely on softwood lumber, and straining the relationship with one of our most important allies.

In 2006, the United States and Canada signed the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), establishing a system of fees and quotas on Canadian imports to the United States that can be triggered in response to fluctuations in the market price of softwood lumber. This agreement brought about a period of relative stability in the trade of softwood lumber between the United States and Canada.

The 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on October 12, 2015. With no follow on agreement in place and new tariffs being imposed averaging just over 20 percent, lumber prices have skyrocketed, hitting an all-time high in June of this year. We urge the United States negotiate with Canada in a renewed effort to reach a new softwood lumber agreement. As part of these negotiations, we understand that you are required to consider the perspective of domestic producers. It is our hope that in negotiating a new agreement with Canada, you will take into account not only the impact of price fluctuations on the domestic lumber industry, but also on those secondary industries and consumers that rely on softwood lumber for their economic well-being. This will ensure the entire United States economy is taken into consideration.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to working on this with you moving forward.