Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) recently sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk requesting his office conduct a full review of a financial package that was recently offered by the Canadian government to a paper mill in Nova Scotia that directly competes with mills in Northern Michigan.
"I'm fighting to protect Northern Michigan's paper mills and the many jobs these facilities support. Northern Michigan citizens go to work each day at these mills and they deserve to have other countries play by the rules. We are simply asking the USTR to take a thorough look at this situation and make sure no violations have taken place," said Dr. Benishek, a general surgeon from the Upper Peninsula.
Dr. Benishek's letter to the USTR was in response to a recent financial package offered by Canada to the Pacific West Commercial Corporation, the buyers of a paper mill in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. This financial rescue package from the government may not be consistent with Canada's current international trade obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Knowing any possible violations place paper mills in Northern Michigan at a competitive disadvantage, Dr. Benishek has requested the USTR to fully review the situation and to take swift action should any violations be discovered.
The letter sent to the USTR reads in part: "As you know, the Port Hawkesbury mill competes both directly and indirectly with American paper mills, including several in Northern Michigan. Improper government assistance to the Port Hawkesbury mill, which reportedly has the capacity to produce as much as 400,000 tons of supercalendered paper each year, could seriously disadvantage paper mills that produce comparable paper, such as those in Manistique, Escanaba, and Quinnesec, Michigan."