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IP Ticonderoga Mill Manager Chris Mallon: Trade Support Needed for Key Industry Exports

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Mill Manager Chris Mallon of IP's Ticonderoga mill in New York state wrote the following letter explaining how the mill has been and remains an integral part of the North Country economy. With over 600 team members, the mill is the largest employer in the area. For this success to continue, he argues that the passage of additional trade deals is necessary for U.S. papermakers to properly compete in the new global economy.
"The mill make some of the highest quality, most sought after paper products in the International Paper system. However, we can never afford to rest on past laurels or take our strong position within the U.S. paper industry for granted. In order to ensure the ongoing competitiveness of our facility we must continually enhance our ability to successfully compete in the global economy.

When International Paper (now headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., USA) was born in New York in 1898, we were a much different company. Back then, if you were reading a newspaper in the U.S., chances were you would have been reading it on paper manufactured by IP. Today, we do much more. From the paper cup holding your favorite coffee, to the corrugated box that is delivered to your door, to the high quality paper we make right here at Ti, our company is continually evolving to meet the needs of domestic and global markets.

Exports are key to International Paper’s Business model. In 2014, my company exported nearly 23 percent of the product we made in the U.S. That same year we imported into the U.S. market less than .001 percent of what we manufactured overseas. That makes International Paper the third largest waterborne exporter by volume in the United States.

Since our humble beginning more than 100 years ago, International Paper has grown to become a global leader in packaging and paper, with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. We employ approximately 58,000 people in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. And as international economies have grown, we have as well, but only where we have had open access to those economies.

Currently, the Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Unfortunately, it is also home to some of the most restrictive trade policies. This highlights exactly why trade agreements are so important.

New trade agreements work to lower barriers that restrict American companies like International Paper that are seeking to export abroad. With over 95% of the world’s population and 80% of its purchasing power living outside our borders, it is crucial that we remove these barriers so that U.S. companies can continue to grow.

This isn’t just important to large companies like International Paper-but to small companies and workers across the state. In New York, 94% of the state’s 41,000 exporters are small or medium-sized businesses, and jobs related to exports pay wages up to 18% higher than non-export related jobs. What’s more, trade-related jobs have grown 2.3 times faster than total employment in New York over the past decade, now supporting 2.6 million jobs in the state.

These numbers underscore how new trade agreements that lower barriers and increase access to new markets abroad can unleash benefits for businesses, workers, and families here at home. The good news is the United States is currently negotiating new trade deals with Pacific and European countries that would increase access to global markets like never before.

There’s only one problem: it’s nearly impossible to pass free trade agreements without first passing something called Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.

TPA is a procedural process that streamlines the negotiation and finalization of trade agreements. Simply put, TPA empowers Congress to call the shots on negotiating objectives and consultation, and also requires an up-or-down vote on a final agreement. This enables the United States to speak with one voice on trade, while also giving our negotiating partners the certainty they need to give their best offers.

Recently, legislation to renew TPA-the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act-passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 62-37. It’s expected to be considered by the House of Representatives soon.

I support passage of this important legislation, and urge our representatives in Washington, DC, to do the same."

Editor's Note: After the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program failed to pass two weeks ago in the U.S. House, where it is considered vital in order to pass the new TPA, lawmakers moved to embed language in a procedural vote that will allow the Speaker to bring up the TAA vote any time before July 30. The final vote to pass the bill was 236-189, a larger spread in favor of continuing the trade deal than when the narrowly successful vote was first taken to go forward with TPA without TAA, and 100 votes more than the original TAA vote where only 126 representatives voted in favor. New motions  passed to reschedule the final fast track approval to once again be ready by this fall, giving leaders in both major U.S. political parties time to work the necessary changes in votes to assure clean package.

This came after a second visit by President Barack Obama to encourage Democratic representatives to support the package. Republican congressional leaders such as Rep. Paul Ryan also urged his Republican caucus to conclude that passing TPA with TAA is essential, having said "I think it would be a big mistake for our country if we’re to fail to do this... Trade is very important. It’s about time this administration gets around to it. Forget our party – this is important for our country."

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