By: The Working Forest Staff
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congressman Bruce Poliquin sent a letter to United States International Trade Commission (ITC) Chairwoman, Meredith Broadbent, seeking an affirmative preliminary injury determination in regards to the unfair subsidies received by the Port Hawkesbury paper mill.
This stems from the Coalition of Fair Paper Imports, which includes Madison Paper Industries and Verso Corporations, petition alleging that Canadian supercalendered paper producers, like Port Hawkesbury paper mill, are benefitting from subsidies from the Canadian government. As a result of these subsidies, earlier this year, Madison Paper Mill briefly curtailed production and temporarily laid off most non-salaried employees for two weeks.
In their letter to ITC, Senators Collins and King and Congressman Poliquin wrote, “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.
“United States trade laws are designed to prevent the type of unfair competition alleged in the aforementioned countervailing duty petition. Therefore, consistent with all appropriate laws and regulations, we urge you to issue an affirmative preliminary injury determination in this countervailing duty case.”
The following is the full text of the letter:
April 8, 2015
The Honorable Meredith Broadbent
U.S. International Trade Commission
500 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20436
Re: Supercalendered Paper From Canada: Inv. Nos. 701-TA-530 (Preliminary)
Dear Chairwoman Broadbent:
We seek an affirmative preliminary injury determination in the countervailing duty case regarding supercalendered paper produced in Canada. Subsidies provided by the provincial government of Nova Scotia to Port Hawkesbury Paper Company are unfairly and unlawfully harming supercalendered paper manufacturers in the United States, including Madison Paper Industries (MPI), a Maine producer that is a petitioner in this case.
Earlier this year, Madison Paper Industries was forced to shut down its mill operation for seventeen days and temporarily layoff nearly 200 workers, in part as a result of unfair subsidies flowing to the Port Hawkesbury Paper Company. Three additional large Maine paper mills closed permanently in 2014, eliminating nearly one thousand badly needed jobs. The loss of these good-paying jobs has been devastating for the affected communities in our state.
Verso Paper Corporation, the second petitioner in this countervailing duty case, owns and operates a mill in Jay, Maine, that manufactures coated groundwood paper. Verso’s financial health and viability is also tied to the outcome of this unfair and unlawful Canadian subsidies case.
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. 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.
Concerns about the Port Hawkesbury subsidies are not new. In both the 2013 and 2014 National Trade Estimates released by the U.S. Trade Representative, the nature and extent of assistance provided by Nova Scotia to the Port Hawkesbury paper mill was cited as a barrier to trade.
United States trade laws are designed to prevent the type of unfair competition alleged in the aforementioned countervailing duty petition. Therefore, consistent with all appropriate laws and regulations, we urge you to issue an affirmative preliminary injury determination in this countervailing duty case.