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Letter to Irving Williamson, Chair, International Trade Commission - Protect Plywood Industry from Unfair Chinese Imports

Chinese hardwood plywood manufacturers flooding U.S. market with illegally sourced wood, stacking the deck against American manufacturers

Earlier this week, Representative Bill Owens and a bipartisan group of 20 Members of Congress urged the International Trade Commission to level the playing field for American hardwood plywood manufacturers.

In the last decade, the Chinese import share of the U.S. hardwood plywood market skyrocketed from 7 percent in 2000 to 50 percent in 2011. Because of unfair Chinese trading practices including illegal logging and U.S. marketplace dumping, American hardwood plywood manufacturers are operating at less than half their production capacity, costing thousands of American jobs. Last year, the International Trade Commission (ITC) unanimously voted to investigate the Chinese government's culpability in allowing Chinese manufacturers to unfairly cut production costs through illegal tax breaks and offer prices that are impossible for their American competitors to match.

Representative Owens has previously requested that the USTR confront the Chinese government about unfair manufacturing practices. In June, he visited Rawlings Adirondack and Sunderland Leather in Gloversville, NY and spoke about a letter he signed urging the U.S. Trade Representative to fight the illegal Chinese counterfeiting of U.S. retail trademarks.

The Honorable Irving A. Williamson
Chairman, U.S. lntemational Trade Commission
500 E Street, Southwest
Washíngton, DC 20436

Dear Mr. Chairman,

We write to express our strong support for the efforts by American hardwood plywood manufacturers to reign in unfairly traded imports from China. This investigation was instituted as a result of a petition filed on behalf of U.S. hardwood plywood manufacturers that collectively account for approximately 80 percent of U.S. production. The ITC, in its preliminary determination last November, unanimously determined that there was a reasonable indication that this U.S. manufacturing industry was suffering material injury due to Chinese imports. We urge the Commission's considered analysis in this current final investigation phase.

American manufacturers cannot compete when the deck is unfairly stacked against them. This industry is critical to local a¡d state economies throughout the United States. In so many instances, the communities - small towns and cities - in which the U.S. manufacturing facilities are located depend on the continuing competitive viability of these companies for jobs, for paychecks and for support of the worker's families. In fact, when these facilities are closed by unfair trading practices, there are no altematives to which these communities can tum.

Even in a rebounding economy, we understand that U.S. hardwood plywood manufacturers are operating at no more than 50 percent of their production capacity. And while the size of the U.S. market has grown in recent years, U.S. manufacturers are effectively precluded from this growth. It appears this is because, as the Commission found in its preliminary investigation, a growing tide of Chinese imports undersell domestically-manufactured product by substantial margins. In tum, this is abetted by unfair trade practices. Moreover, Chinese companies in the wood products sector - including hardwood plywood manufacturers - enjoy a significant cost advantage as the world's largest consumer of illegally sourced wood material.

As the greatest manufacturing engine in the history of the world, our nation cannot allow its capacity to manufacture products domestically to erode in the face of unfair trade practices that hurt American companies, cost American jobs, and destroy American communities. we urge the Commission to ensure a level playing field.


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