WISCONSINREPORT.COM (04/24/08) - Wisconsin Congressmen Steve Kagen, Democrat, and Tom Petri, Republican, have urged the Bush Administration to halt unfair trade practices by overseas paper manufacturers. In a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, they expressed concerns over the swift entry of unusually low-priced imports of lightweight thermal paper (LWTP) into the U.S. market from China and Germany. Similarly, an influx of coated free sheet paper from foreign producers will lead to the closing of an entire paper plant in Niagara, WI and a loss of papermaking jobs in Kimberly, WI. WisconsinReport.com has more.
“We must create a fair and level playing field,” said Kagen. “Other nations have targeted our papermaking industry for extinction. We are calling on the Commerce Secretary to enable our papermakers to compete in the global marketplace, and to defend our very way of life. We must enact balanced trade deals that begin to ship our values overseas – not our jobs.”
Twenty-three Members of the House of Representatives signed the bi-partisan letter, including Representatives Michael Turner from Ohio, Bill Shuster from Pennsylvania and John Olver from Massachusetts.
Kagen, Petri, Turner, Shuster, and Olver, assert that these imports have harmed domestic specialty paper producers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and come at a time when American manufacturers are already struggling with rising costs of production.
Congressman Petri said, “We have trade laws to protect domestic manufacturers struggling against unfair trading practices, and I think it's right and appropriate for the Commerce Department to enforce these rules. That’s what this letter is all about.”
The U.S. lightweight thermal paper industry produces carbonless paper and other paper products commonly used in business transactions, including paper invoices, credit card receipts, and ATM receipts.
The largest domestic LWTP manufacturer is a company called Appleton, which has major facilities in Appleton and Portage, Wisconsin; West, Ohio; Roaring Spring, PA; and Turners Falls, MA; as well as in other locations across the country.
In March of this year, the Commerce Department recognized that the allegations of unfair subsidies by China in the low-priced imports of lightweight thermal paper sector merited a significant response.
A preliminary decision from the Department in this matter is expected on May 7, 2008. This decision is critical to the survival and preservation of papermaking in Wisconsin, a vital part of the region’s economy.