Local Companies Will Thrive With Fairness in Trade
By Congressman Michael Turner
American workers are among the most knowledgeable and hardworking people in the world. Southwest Ohio has been a cradle of research and innovation for over a century and we intend to be leaders in the new economy that is developing everyday. We know that we can compete with any country in any industry if there is a level playing field. Unfortunately, American companies, many of them in Southwest Ohio, have been hurt by the unfair trading practices of their foreign competitors. One such company is Appleton Papers which has a mill in West Carrollton that employs nearly 500 people. I recently testified at a U.S. International Trade Commission hearing about the illegal subsidies German and Chinese thermal paper companies receive from their governments. Hardworking employees of the West Carrollton mill also attended the hearing to make certain the Commission understood the importance of this issue.
The hearing I testified before focused on the competition between American and Chinese companies in the lightweight thermal paper industry. The purpose of the ITC hearing was to decide if an illegal subsidy is being used and if it is necessary to apply a duty to Chinese thermal paper coming into our markets in order to prevent material harm to U.S. industries.
While the paper industry as a whole has suffered in many aspects due to our transition to a computerized society, thermal paper has been said to be growing in popularity because of its uses in receipts. Appleton Paper has worked hard to be a leader in this developing sector of our economy and has been at the forefront of developing the coating technology that enabled the development of this type of paper. Just this past August, I had the honor of attending the ribbon cutting for Appleton’s new thermal coater in its West Carrollton, Ohio mill. Appleton’s $125 million investment in this upgrade underlines both the company’s commitment to its customers and to producing their products in Southwest Ohio.
This new investment is particularly important in light of recent developments with overseas imports of lightweight thermal paper. I have been told that the volume of paper imports from China and Germany are very large and continue to grow. Additionally, I have been told that the imports from those countries have undersold U.S. producers’ prices and that this has resulted in a significant number of lost sales for domestic companies. It seems clear that an illegal subsidy may be at work with the goal of further decimating America’s manufacturing capability. The Department of Commerce has already issued a preliminary determination that paper imports from China and Germany are being dumped in our market and that the Chinese government is providing significant subsidies to thermal paper producers in China.
I believe it is critical that our government support American small businesses and their employees. We should pursue policies that allow companies like Appleton to compete and excel in this global economy. We cannot allow these unfair trade practices to continue and I will work with my colleagues and appropriate federal agencies to help ensure a fair and level playing field for American businesses and workers.