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AF&PA lends support to U.S. request to enforce duties on uncoated paper imports


August 19, 2019
By P&PC Staff

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has issued a statement regarding the anti-circumvention petitions on uncoated free sheet paper filed on August 2 by several manufacturers and the United Steelworkers.

Donna Harman, AF&PA president and CEO, says, “AF&PA supports free and fair trade policies. U.S. trade laws include provisions to ensure that U.S. companies and workers are not harmed by foreign unfair trade practices.”

The petitions were filed with the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission for uncoated free sheet paper in rolls from several countries.

The domestic producers joining this effort to regulate paper imports are Domtar Corporation, Packaging Corporation of America, North Pacific Paper Company and Finch Paper.

The request seeks effective enforcement of the duties ordered by the Commerce Department in 2016. These came following a ruling by the International Trade Commission that dumping of uncoated paper by Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal, as well as government subsidies to producers in China and Indonesia, had unfairly harmed the U.S. industry.

The original case covered uncoated paper imported in sheets for use primarily as copy paper. Some foreign producers now have shifted to sending the same product to the United States in rolls. These rolls are then converted to sheets.

“It is our responsibility to our colleagues and to our shareholders to fight against illegal trade practices such as these,” says John D. Williams, Domtar president and CEO. “We embrace competition; it makes us a better, stronger company, but it must be fair competition.”

USW International Vice-President Leeann Foster, who oversees bargaining in the union’s paper sector, says, “The domestic paper sector has been under attack for more than 20 years as foreign producers seek to take advantage of our market, putting our members’ jobs in jeopardy. Thousands have been lost to foreign unfair trade practices. Our trade laws are supposed to defend American workers and industries by addressing foreign unfair and predatory trade practices. We need our government to stand up for domestic jobs.”

The Department of Commerce normally determines within 45 days whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant an investigation. Assuming an investigation is initiated, the department may issue a preliminary determination as soon as spring of 2020.

“We encourage the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission to review carefully the evidence provided in the petitions and to make a determination as quickly as possible,” says Harman. “The U.S. paper industry operates in a highly competitive global market. Government enforcement of domestic and international trade rules is important to safeguard the health of the U.S. paper industry and for markets to function properly.”