US builders ask for help

US builders ask for help
Published: 30 June 2004

The nation’s builders are urging the United States government to eliminate obstacles to importing cement from Mexico to help alleviate a shortage that has delayed home building and other construction projects.  The National Association of Home Builders in Washington asked the Commerce Department last week to suspend anti-dumping taxes imposed on Mexican cement imports.

"US consumers of cement need a reliable, efficient source of supply for that portion of the U.S. market that must be met by imports," association Chief Executive Jerry Howard said in a statement. "Mexico can meet much of that demand if allowed to do so."  The Commerce Department will continue to hold discussions aimed at resolving the trade dispute between the US and Mexico, but it does not have the authority to suspend the tax, spokeswoman Mary Brown Brewer said Tuesday.

Industry officials would have to step forward and say the tax is no longer necessary for it to be waived or eliminated, Brewer said.

A cement shipment from Asia takes about 44 days to arrive at a US port, according to the home builders’ association. A shipment from Mexico takes only four days, but anti-dumping taxes of US$57/t make this option impractical.  A report issued by the Portland Cement Association shows shortages in 23 states, but the problem is particularly troublesome in Florida and along the East Coast.