DISPUTE OVER CANADIAN LUMBER TAX INCREASINGLY AFFECTS HISPANICS

DISPUTE OVER CANADIAN LUMBER TAX INCREASINGLY AFFECTS HISPANICS

Tax on Lumber Affects Lower Income Hispanics, Retired and First Time Homebuyers Tariff Affects More Than 133,000 Hispanic Contractors and tens of thousands of Hispanic construction workers throughout the Country


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Austin, TX–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–February 5, 2003–The U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association (HCA) has partnered with the U.S.-Canada Partnership for Growth to seek a reduction in the 27% tax that the United States has placed on Canadian lumber imports. The tax, on softwood imports from Canada, directly affects Hispanic contractors, small business owners, labor workers and consumers.

Frank Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Contractors Association (HCA), with headquarters in Austin, Texas, stands behind the U.S.-Canada Partnership for Growth in assisting Hispanics who are small business owners, contractors, laborers, consumers and retired and first time homebuyers. The HCA and the U.S.-Canada Partnership for Growth has joined efforts to end this dispute that threatens the stability of more than 133,000 Hispanic contracting firms as well as thousands of Hispanic construction workers across the US.

“As Hispanic contractors, we not only build homes; we also create job opportunities in our communities. Anything with the potential to increase the price of building a home puts the jobs of thousands of Hispanic workers and the opportunity to buy their own home at risk,” said Fuentes. “Our intention is to let the government know that this dispute is not only damaging the economic relationship between the U.S. and Canada, but it also has great impact on this country’s Hispanic community.”

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the tax adds approximately $1000 to $1500 to the cost of building an average, medium-sized home, if the price for lumber reflects the full extent of the duty.

“The tax not only raises housing prices for all Americans including Hispanics, it also slows down the building of homes. As a result, business for Hispanic contractors suffers.” says Fuentes.

Furthermore, according to the most recent figures from the US Census Bureau, only 49.5% of Hispanics own their own homes as compared to an average of 70.3% of total non-Hispanics in the United States who are homeowners.

In Texas alone, it is estimated that the Hispanic construction workforce exceeds 80,000 workers with over 30,000 Hispanic construction company owners, according to the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association. HCA is responsible for more than $500 million in construction income for the State of Texas.

William E. Brock, co-chair of the U.S.-Canada Partnership for Growth and former United States Trade Representative, says, “The tariff levied on Canadian lumber is not aligned with President George Bush’s goal of increasing minority home ownership. The President of the United States wants over 5.5 million Hispanic, African-American or Asian owners to achieve their dream of homeownership by the end of this decade. However, we know that this country is facing serious economic challenges, and another tax is not the solution nor does it put the country in the appropriate direction to achieve this goal.”

The United States and Canada have built the largest trade partnership in the entire world, generating more than $500 billion in annual trade, which results in $1.2 billion a day. The US does more business with Canada than it does with the 15 countries that together comprise the European Union. Canada buys more products and services from the U.S. than any other country in the world, and 37 States identify Canada as their number one customer. This trade supports more than five million jobs in both countries.

About The U.S.- Canada Partnership for Growth

The U.S.- Canada Partnership for Growth is an alliance of individuals and organizations sharing the common goal of strengthening one of the best trade relationships in the world. The partnership focuses on creating awareness on the impact and economic risks to the U.S. and Canada as a result of the 27% import tax that the American government has placed on Canadian lumber.

About the US Hispanic Contractors Association

Established in 2002, the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association (HCA) represents over 8,000 Hispanic contractors and businesses throughout the U.S. The HCA is an organization devoted to providing Hispanic contractors with information on the industry and job opportunities. Additionally, leaders in the organization meet with legislators to advocate on behalf of its members’ needs. The HCA sponsors training programs and supports contracting firms through financial services.

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CONTACT:

Evelyn Zapata

Burson-Marsteller

305 347 4339

DISPUTE OVER CANADIAN LUMBER TAX INCREASINGLY AFFECTS HISPANICS