As IWPA looks to the year ahead, it is clear that legislative and regulatory issues will continue to play an important role in any business forecast for 2014. The economy is on its way to recovery. Housing starts have improved, the RV industry, boating and other consumer products posted year over year sales increases in the double digits. However, the dampening effect those potential new regulations can have on business confidence continued to weigh on business leaders. IWPA helps its members have a voice in the regulatory and legislative process and most importantly make sure that they have the information they need to be successful in this changing environment.
As 2013 draws to a close, IWPA looks back and it is clear that among the issues that affected our industry included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rule on formaldehyde emissions in composite wood products and California’s Air Resource Board (CARB) plans to amend its regulations on the same products.
For plywood importers and consuming industries, the top issue was the International Trade Commission (ITC) antidumping and countervailing duty petition on Chinese hardwood and decorative plywood. The ITC’s overwhelming 5-0 vote that the U.S. industry is neither materially injured nor threatened with material injury by imports of hardwood plywood from China was welcomed news. As a result of the USITC's negative determinations, no final antidumping or countervailing duty orders were issued. The wood industry continues to closely monitor Lacey Act implementation and enforcement actions as well as efforts to draft a standard for due diligence. Affecting all businesses was the government shutdown, falling off the fiscal cliff, and threats of a U.S. default on the national debt. All in all, 2013 was a year where the need to keep informed about and respond to these rapid changes became even more important for business leaders.
IWPA has risen to the challenges 2013 has posed by increasing the number of issues lobbied on the hill and the number of regulations where IWPA engaged substantively with regulators and other industry associations. IWPA members stepped up by participating actively in taskforces to prepare regulatory comments as well as grassroots efforts to help lobby Capitol Hill. These activities will continue to be important in 2014. Many of our members are cautiously optimistic that as regulations become finalized and with the ITC case settled, there will be more predictability in their business models.
Looking ahead, IWPA has been engaged in a strategic planning process to ensure we are evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of our members and the import industry. 2014 will bring about changes in some of the services we offer. However IWPA’s goals for 2014 remain the same – we will represent the industry in domestic and international forums, and ensure our members have the best information possible to run their businesses, and promote the acceptance and demand for globally sourced wood products from sustainably managed forests. Though broad, this encompasses what IWPA has always stood for – promoting the use of wood and ensuring our members can make informed decisions to grow their businesses.
(Cindy Squires is the Executive Director of the International Wood Products Association)
Established in 1956, IWPA is the leading international trade association for the North American imported wood products industry, representing 200 companies and trade associations engaged in the import of hardwoods and softwoods from sustainably managed forests. Association members consist of three key groups involved in the import process: U.S. importers and consuming industries, offshore manufacturers and the service providers that facilitate trade.
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