U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she wants to find a “long-term solution” to Washington’s long-running dispute with Canada over lumber, the cost of which has soared to records.
“The silver lining could be that we use this as an opportunity to all get around the table, including USTR, to find a long-term solution with Canada,” she said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday in response to a question from Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. She was referring to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The Commerce chief also said she would be “very pleased” to host a summit to address supply-chain issues for lumber.
Raimondo’s comments come days after the Commerce Department announced plans for higher duties on Canadian softwood imports that would double the current rate if implemented. U.S. demand for wood is outstripping supply amid surging residential construction, causing lumber prices to more than triple in the past year.
The rally has driven up costs for building new houses and threatened to push some homebuyers out of the market. The National Association of Home Builders has urged the Biden administration to negotiate a new trade deal with Canada to secure supplies and halt further hikes.