U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) testified today before the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) on the need to protect the American paper industry from unfair trade practices of coated paper producers from China and Indonesia. China and Indonesia receive subsidies to produce coated paper and then dump their excess paper into the U.S. market at below cost price, driving U.S. manufacturers out of business. Stupak pushed the ITC to move quickly to stop these practices that continue to jeopardize the jobs of paper mill workers in northern Michigan and across the country.
Stupak spoke extensively about the NewPage Corporation paper mill in Escanaba. Located in Delta County, the mill is an important part of the local economy and the community in general. Stupak stressed that paper mills in the United States -- including the Niagara mill-- have already been shut down as a result of inequitable trade practices and that more mills, like NewPage, could face closure if action is not taken.
Stupak submitted the following testimony to the ITC:
"Thank you for inviting me to testify on this issue so important to my northern Michigan district.
"The Escanaba, Michigan mill of NewPage Corporation is critical to the local community. With more than 1,140 employees, the mill provides good paying jobs in a county that has an unemployment rate of more than 12.1 percent. The plant's estimated impact on the community is nearly $269 million annually.
"As the International Trade Commission continues the final step in its investigation into the illegal dumping of coat paper from China and Indonesia, I urge you to affirm the finding of the U.S. Department of Commerce that paper products from China and Indonesia were sold in the United States below market value. This is a fact paper mill workers in Muskegon, Michigan and Niagara, Wisconsin know too well after their mills were closed in 2005 and 2008. Along with Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, I urged this Commission in October 2009 to investigate the injurious practices from foreign producers that led to the closure of mills across Michigan.
"I strongly supported the affirmative preliminary determinations by the Department of Commerce in March and May of this year that found certain coated paper from China and Indonesia is being sold in the United States at less than fair value, and that foreign producers are benefitting from large subsidies from the Chinese and Indonesian governments.
"This Commission is charged with maintaining the integrity of the trade market. You have already made a preliminary determination that the dumping of subsidized paper products from China and Indonesia are swamping our markets and hurting American paper mills, and, in turn, American workers. I urge the Commission to recognize again what the ITC recognized in November of 2008: that foreign manufacturers are selling products in the United States for less than fair market value, harming domestic industry and threatening American workers.
"Applying U.S. trade laws to unfair trade practices must remain a priority for this Commission. If the Commission does not act, these illegal practices jeopardize jobs in my district and in paper mills across the country. Unfair pricing and large government subsidies to paper producers in Indonesia and China must stop now.
"I urge the Commission to act immediately to finalize the 2009 determinations, and begin the process of alleviating the damage these practices caused our domestic industry and American workers."
Audio of Congressman Stupak discussing the ITC hearing can be found here: http://www.house.gov/list/hearing/mi01_stupak/20100916itchearingpaper.mp3