US Construction trade groups are praising an “agreement in principle” to reduce tariffs on cement from Mexico, saying it’s a good step toward reducing shortages and lowering building costs. The agreement, announced by the US Commerce Department last week, will reduce “anti-dumping” duties on imported Mexican cement from $26 per tonne to $3 a tonne, effective April 1. Quotas and duties would be eliminated
after three years.
“We are hoping this will be the start toward getting rid of these quotas and duties altogether,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, in a phone interview. “I think it will really relieve some of the spot shortages that have appeared in different parts of the country.”
Tim Dwyer, a vice president with Brasfield & Gorrie, a large Orlando, Fla.-based builder, said the agreement is good news for his state. Florida imports 55 per cent of its cement from other states and foreign countries, he said. “With all the hurricanes, from the panhandle to south Florida, the need is going to be more and more,” Dwyer said.
The National Association of Homebuilders says the agreement will lead to “free trade of this vital commodity,” while providing relief to the 30-plus states that have reported shortages.
“Our nation’s continued construction boom has driven concrete material prices up very quickly, and that was even before this recent hurricane season,” said ABC 2006 National Chairman Jack Darnall, in a statement. “This tariff relief will help soften those price spikes and benefit customers, many of whom face rising construction costs so dramatic they threaten the viability of their projects.”