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Kohl Argues Before International Trade Commission on Behalf of Wisconsin Paper Companies

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) on behalf of Wisconsin's pulp and paper facilities as part of an investigation into unfair trade practices by overseas coated paper industries. Specifically, Kohl raised concerns about coated paper dumping and subsidization from China and Indonesia, which has harmed Wisconsin paper producers by destroying competition in the marketplace. Kohl is the chairman of the Senate Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights subcommittee, and he urged the USITC to enforce laws already on the books to prevent paper dumping and other unfair practices.

"Wisconsin paper producers are the most competitive in the world, if they are allowed to play on level playing field. They have invested continuously in technology upgrades and state-of-the-art equipment. They have a dedicated sales force focused on customer service. Wisconsin's paper companies are intertwined with our abundant and renewable forest resources," Kohl said.

Kohl emphasized that Wisconsin has 241 pulp and paper facilities which employ approximately 35,000 people. Together, NewPage Corporation and Appleton Coated employ nearly three thousand workers. He reminded the USITC that only two years ago, due to unfair trade practices in China, New Page closed down mills in Kimberly and Niagara, and had to lay off about 1,000 people. Last year, Appleton Coated laid off nearly 80 people at its Combined Locks mill.

"My office received hundreds of letters from employees at these companies -- all with similar stories. These men and women -- many of them second and third generation paper workers -- have been with their company for many years. They're worried that they're going to lose their job, not because they aren't working hard, but because of unfair subsidies from countries like China and Indonesia. These people are worried because they've seen jobs losses due to unfair competition for many years now," Kohl told the USITC.

The full text of Kohl's remarks is below:

September 16, 2010

Testimony of Senator Herb Kohl

Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses from China and Indonesia

(Inv. No. 701-470-471 and 731-1169-1170)

Madam Chairman and fellow Commissioners, thank you for this opportunity to appear today on behalf of two Wisconsin paper companies and in support of their case. For generations, the paper industry has supported Wisconsin's families and helped grow our middle class. A healthy paper industry is vital to Wisconsin's economy, but they cannot compete against unfair trade practices.

The importance of paper to Wisconsin cannot be understated. Wisconsin has 241 pulp and paper facilities which employ approximately 35,000 people. Together, NewPage Corporation and Appleton Coated employ nearly three thousand workers.

Both NewPage and Appleton have mills in my state that produce paper that is the subject of your investigation. This case means a lot to those companies and in particular to their workers, some of whom traveled here from Wisconsin to attend the hearing today.

My office received hundreds of letters from employees at these companies -- all with similar stories. These men and women -- many of them second and third generation paper workers -- have been with their company for many years. They're worried that they're going to lose their job, not because they aren't working hard, but because of unfair subsidies from countries like China and Indonesia. These people are worried because they've seen job losses due to unfair competition for many years now.

Two years ago, I testified before the ITC, regarding lightweight thermal paper. Unfortunately, the story then is similar to the story today. In 2008, New Page closed down mills in Kimberly and Niagara, and had to lay off about 1,000 people. Last year, Appleton Coated laid off nearly 80 people at its Combined Locks mill.

These lost jobs have a negative ripple effect -- unemployment at a large employer is felt throughout the supply chain, as well as all the other small businesses dependent on consumer spending.

Unless action is taken, this story of unfair competition and lost jobs here at home will likely continue. But that's why we have this process. We must enforce the laws on the books, and discourage these unfair practices from happening in the future.

Wisconsin paper producers are the most competitive in the world, if they are allowed to play on level playing field. They have invested continuously in technology upgrades and state-of-the-art equipment. They have a dedicated sales force focused on customer service. Wisconsin's paper companies are intertwined with our abundant and renewable forest resources.

I urge you to review carefully the evidence you've gathered in this investigation. When you do I am confident that your final determinations will find that the dumping and subsidization of the coated paper industry has resulted in material injury. We're hopeful that the lost jobs return and future job losses are stopped.

Thank you again for the opportunity to participate today and for your hard work on behalf of workers all over the world.


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