Collins, King Sign on to Bipartisan Letter In Support of U.S. Hardwood Plywood Companies Harmed by Unfair Chinese Business Practices

Six American Companies Have Petitioned the International Trade Commission to Seek Relief

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that this week, they joined a group of bipartisan colleagues and sent a letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) in support of a petition by the Coalition for the Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood. In the letter, the Senators voice their support for an affirmative decision in an ongoing antidumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) case against Chinese hardwood plywood companies that are benefiting from unfair subsidies from the Chinese Government enabling them to sell – or “dump” – their products in the United States at less than market value.

 

“For many small towns in America, the hardwood plywood industry is the largest source of employment,” Collins, King and their colleagues wrote in the letter. “When facilities are closed by unfair trade, communities are severely harmed.  Moreover, Chinese companies in the wood products sector---including hardwood plywood manufacturers—are the world’s largest consumers of illegally sourced wood material.  Chinese producers benefit from subsidies and from illegal logging, creating a playing field that tilts in their favor and against hard-working American manufacturers, costing American jobs.”

 

The Coalition for the Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood represents six American businesses and includes Columbia Forest Products, a hardwood plywood manufacturer which employs more than 160 people at a facility in Presque Isle. The Coalition’s petition is currently under review by both the Department of Commerce and the ITC. Both the DOC and ITC have preliminarily found in favor of the Coalition, and if each body makes a final determination in favor of the Coalition, the DOC will issue an antidumping/countervailing duty order that would instruct U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to impose final duties on each of the companies that has been found to engage in unfair practices. The Senators’ letter was sent in advance of the ITC’s final hearing on the case today.

 

In 2013, the ITC ruled against a similar petition from the American hardwood plywood industry against Chinese companies. Since that time, imports of Chinese hardwood plywood have increased by 40 percent, with imports valued at $1.12 billion in 2016. By comparison, the American hardwood plywood industry is currently operating at less than 50 percent production capacity.

 

In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), John Boozman (R-Montana), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Bernard Sanders (I-Vermont), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

 

The complete text of the letter is available HERE and below:

 

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October 24, 2017

The Honorable Rhonda K. Schmidtlein                     The Honorable David S. Johanson
Chairman, International Trade Commission              Vice-Chair, International Trade Commission  
500 E Street, SW                                                        500 E Street, SW                               
Washington, DC 20436                                              Washington, DC 20436

 

Dear Chairman Schmidtlein and Vice-Chairman Johanson:

 

We write to express our strong support for the efforts by American hardwood plywood manufacturers to rein in subsidized and dumped imports from China, and urge the Commission to carefully consider the facts presented by the domestic industry in the final investigation phase of this proceeding. 

 

The International Trade Commission unanimously found in its preliminary determination in December that there was a reasonable indication that this U.S. manufacturing industry was suffering material injury due to Chinese imports.  As the Commission evaluates the evidence in this final phase, we note in particular several developments that distinguish this case from a similar one brought before the ITC in 2012.  For example, since that earlier case was filed, imports have increased another 40%.The hardwood plywood industry has suffered additional job losses despite increasing demand for wood products, more clearly demonstrating that material injury has occurred. During the prior case, U.S. hardwood plywood manufacturers were operating at no more than 50 percent of their production capacity. Since then, that number has decreased further. This is because, as the Commission found in its preliminary investigation, increasing Chinese imports undersell American-made products by substantial margins.

 

For many small towns in America, the hardwood plywood industry is the largest source of employment. When facilities are closed by unfair trade, communities are severely harmed.  Moreover, Chinese companies in the wood products sector—including hardwood plywood manufacturers—are the world’s largest consumers of illegally sourced wood material.  Chinese producers benefit from subsidies and from illegal logging, creating a playing field that tilts in their favor and against hard-working American manufacturers, costing American jobs.

 

We appreciate the Commission’s work to date on this important matter, and urge the Commission to ensure U.S. trade remedy laws are fully enforced.