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USW Calls U.S. Trade Commission Vote a "Mixed Bag" on Lined Paper

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The United Steelworkers (USW), Pittsburgh, Pa., USA, has called the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) vote on Thursday of last week (August 2) to continue duty orders on lined paper school supplies imported from China and India "a correct outcome," but added that "the negative vote to remove tariffs on Indonesia opens a side door that could threaten American paper workers."

USW President Leo W. Gerard noted that "another five years of tariffs on imports of lined paper and school notebooks from China and India is the right outcome to sustain American paper worker jobs and our domestic paper mills that make this product. But we are concerned the trade commission has revoked the duty orders on Indonesian producers in this proceeding.

"Indonesian producers are bad environmental actors and the trade agency's negative determination to end the existing tariffs will open the side door for them to ship their environmentally unsound paper products to the U.S. market, while American producers must meet high green standards," Gerard said.

As a result, Gerard continued, Indonesian paper products, such as notebooks, composition books, and filler paper, "will now be able to enter the U.S. duty free, potentially threatening American jobs and the domestic school supplies industry." The USW acknowledged it's an "open secret" that Indonesian paper producers are "bad environmental actors." Among them, it adds, is Tjiwi Kimia, "which lost its Forest Stewardship Council certification in 2007 due to its environmental practices."

According to Leeann Foster, assistant to the USW president who testified at the ITC review hearing in June, the duty orders first placed in 2006 on lined paper school supplies from India, Indonesia, and China have worked as intended in sustaining jobs and stabilizing the industry. "However, revoking orders on Indonesia could potentially be disastrous for our paper workers."

Mitch Heaton, USW Local 10-1442 president, who represents 400 workers at the ACCO Mead Products paper mill in Alexandria, Pa. (one of the nation's largest producers of school notebooks), said that "we depend on tariffs that create a level playing field for fair trade." Another USW-represented converter paper mill in nearby Roaring Springs, Pa. (the Roaring Springs Blank Book Co.) will also be affected with 200 workers, according to USW.


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