By: The Ripon Advance
The International Trade Commission (ITC) determined in a 5-0 vote this week that unfair subsidies for Canadian supercalendared paper were unlawfully hurting Maine businesses in a victory for U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) who first raised the issue.
The Department of Commerce will now finalize a countervailing duty on imports of supercalendared paper from Canada as a result of ITC’s investigation.
The issue was raised by a petition from the Coalition of Fair Paper Imports, which includes Maine’s Madison Paper Industries (MPI), that alleged that Canadian supercalendared paper producers, including Port Hawkesbury Paper Company, benefited from subsidies from the Canadian government.
“Government subsidies received by the Port Hawkesbury mill have exceeded $125 million in recent years and have taken the form of loans, grants, tax breaks, and reduced energy costs,” Poliquin said in an April letter to the ITC. “Most recently, Port Hawkesbury Paper applied for an additional $40 million in government assistance from Canada’s Forest Industry Transformation Fund. These unfair subsidies have caused the price for supercalendered paper to plummet, resulting in U.S. manufacturers losing revenue, cash flow, profit, investment, and jobs.
As a result of the subsidies, MPI was forced to shut down operation of its mill for 17 days this year and temporarily lay off approximately 200 workers. Three other Maine paper mills closed permanently in 2014, taking approximately 1,000 jobs with them.
“This decision from the ITC investigation is a victory for Madison Paper and a victory for Maine workers,” Poliquin said. “This decision will preserve more than 200 jobs at Madison Paper and keep the facility operating and producing their quality product.
“For months, I have made it a top priority to investigate these unfair trade practices and job-killing subsidies from Canada that have been detrimental to Maine’s businesses. It is unacceptable that so many Maine families have lost work because of these illegal trade practices.”
Poliquin said that the decision is a major step in the right direction for job growth in Maine but that the fight is just starting.
“As Maine’s Second District congressman, I will continue to fight for Maine jobs and fight to end unfair trade policies,” Poliquin said.