Ore. lawmakers urge Chinese paper subsidy probe

Claim 'unfair' aid violates free-trade agreements

WASHINGTON - Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici joined Tuesday 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, the lawmakers claimed.

 "We strongly believe that international trade and investment are critical components that fuel economic growth," the Oregon officials wrote. "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, the delegation said.

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, while the SP Newsprint mill in Newberg declared bankruptcy

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