Paper industry seeks Boehner's help on tariff issue
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Press release from the issuing company
Hamilton - The paper industry employs more than 4,000 people in U.S. Rep. John Boehner's congressional district. And those jobs are at risk if more isn't done about subsidies the Chinese government provides its ballooning paper industry.
That's the message paper industry representatives took to the U.S. House minority leader's West Chester Twp. office Tuesday, July 13.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing handed over a recent Economic Policy Institute report saying that China's rise in the global paper industry has been fueled by more than $33 billion in government subsidies from 2002 to 2009.
This has led China to triple its paper production since 2000, causing it to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest paper producer in 2008.
And it has been a big part of why SMART Papers in Hamilton has shed roughly half of its workforce in the past 18 months, according to SMART Papers CEO Tim Needham. The plant now employs roughly 258 people, he said.
Needham and the trade group say the U.S. is better situated than China to be a paper producer - America has more trees - and China would not be able to compete without the government subsidizing pulp purchased from other countries.
"They buy the pulp from us, we ship it...they convert it into paper, they then ship it back to us and under-sell the U.S. domestic market," Needham said.
The subsidies violate international trade rules, according to Donnie Blatt, a representative from United Steelworkers who represented paper mill workers in the meeting with Boehner's office.
They asked Boehner to join other lawmakers in signing a letter to President Barack Obama to back increased tariffs on Chinese paper imports. This issue is currently being investigated by the International Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce. A final decision is expected in September.
"We're asking the president to take whatever measures are necessary to stop this practice to ensure we don't lose any more of our domestic paper industry," Blatt said. "We think any time China doesn't follow the rules - whether it's the paper industry or any other industry they are flooding the market with - they do impose tariffs on them."
Boehner was in Washington D.C. Tuesday, so missed the meeting.
"At this time Congressman Boehner is continuing to monitor the investigation, and he believes that the investigation should continue unimpeded by politics," said Boehner Spokesman Cory Fritz when asked if he would sign the letter to Obama.
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