Washington, D.C. – In a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing today, Senator Susan Collins questioned Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker regarding the ongoing, unfair subsidies received by the Port Hawkesbury paper mill in Canada. In response to Senator Collins’ questions, Secretary Pritzker reaffirmed her commitment to enforcing international trade obligations and committed to keeping the Maine delegation updated about their investigations into the matter.
It was also announced today that the Coalition for Fair Paper Imports – including Madison Paper Industries and Verso Corporations – filed a petition alleging that Canadian supercalendered paper producers are benefitting from subsidies by the Canadian government. Earlier this month, Madison Paper Industries temporarily laid of employees for two weeks citing, in part, competition from subsidized supercalendered paper.
In response to news of the Coalition for Fair Paper Imports’ petition, Senator Collins, Senator Angus King, and Congressman Bruce Poliquin said, “We will continue to urge the United States Department of Commerce to do everything within their power to help put an end to these unfair subsidies and protect our Maine jobs. These unfair trade practices are hurting our paper mills and leaving the lives of their hardworking employees and Maine families in uncertainty.”
In January, Senators Collins, King, and Congressman Poliquin wrote to Secretary Pritzker regarding the harm that these subsidies were causing for Maine workers, their families, and their communities. In her response, Secretary Pritzker said that the Department of Commerce would use the tools at its disposal to hold trading partners accountable.
The January letter followed other congressional efforts to ensure that the U.S. government examine these harmful subsidies. In December 2012, Senator Collins led a bipartisan letter to then-U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging the Administration to examine these potentially illegal subsidies and, in February 2013, Senator King also directed a letter to Ambassador Kirk expressing his concern about the subsidies. A copy of the 2012 response to Senator Collins’ letter can be viewed here.