U.S. home builders pursue Chile as key softwood supplier

Santiago, Chile


US home builders met with more than 100 Chilean lumber producers, trade organisations and government officials to discuss increasing exports of softwood and other wood products to America.

Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) said that the association is in favour of opening up competition in the U.S. lumber market as this would benefit U.S. builders who are seeking a steady supply of affordably priced lumber.

“As the U.S. housing recovery continues to pick up steam, the demand for softwood lumber will grow,” said Mr Howard. “This is why expanding lumber trade with Chile can benefit both nations. Chile would have the opportunity to increase its exports and market share to the United States, while U.S. industries such as housing that depend on a reliable supply of softwood lumber would be able to meet the housing needs of American consumers and to keep lumber and housing affordable.”

NAHB also met Swedish lumber producers in Chile, who expressed an interest in continuing conversations about increasing lumber exports to the U.S. and building a stronger relationship. The delegation also addressed policy barriers to increasing the volume of Chilean exports from their current level. Chilean wood products only account for 1.22% the U.S. lumber market. Both countries have a free trade agreement.

The meetings in Chile come at a time when the U.S. is in discussion over a new softwood lumber trade agreement with Canada, its largest softwood supplier accounting for about 28% of all imported softwood. The two nations are now engaged in a one-year “cooling off” period – meaning no trade disputes can be filed by either country regarding softwood lumber imports – until October 12.