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Oregon officials seek probe of China paper subsidies

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 4) — On Tuesday, Oregon’s entire Democratic delegation to Congress — Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici — joined in an effort to ask the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Commerce to open a broad-based investigation into the unfair subsidies that China provides to its paper manufacturers. These subsidies violate the rules under WTO and other trade agreements and are putting U.S. paper manufacturers at a significant and unfair competitive disadvantage.

“We strongly believe that international trade and investment are critical components that fuel economic growth,” wrote the Oregon officials. “But trade must be on a level playing field – where countries can benefit from their comparative advantages and the investments they make in public goods like education, infrastructure, and the rule of law – and not upon unfair, unaccountable subsidies.”

The U.S. is home to over 420 pulp and paper mills, which together employ an estimated 445,000 Americans. In recent years, though, these mills and the good-paying jobs they support have been put at risk.

According to the Pulp and Paper Research Council, an estimated 105,000 jobs have been lost across the paper and paper products sector in recent years, leaving families and communities devastated. In 2011 alone, America’s oldest recycled paper mill closed in Oregon City, Oregon, while SP Newsprint mill in Newberg, Oregon declared bankruptcy.

“In the face of continued mill closures and bankruptcies, our union has been working closely with the Working Families Party and other allies to raise this issue for a good long while now,” said Greg Pallesen, President of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers.  “We are heartened to see Merkley’s action on this issue today. Others in Congress should follow his lead by signing on to the Senator’s letter and pushing for fair trade policies.”

Click here to see the letter sent to the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce.

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