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September 26, 2009

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Union seeks duties on imports of Chinese paper

THE United Steelworkers in the United States has filed a petition asking for anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on Chinese and Indonesian paper products.

This follows the union's success in persuading President Barack Obama to impose tariffs on Chinese tire imports.

But the accusation has little footing, according to analysts, because the Chinese government does not provide subsidies for domestic paper makers.

Leo Gerard, international president of the organization which represents 850,000 workers in metals, mining, paper, rubber and chemicals, confirmed that the union, together with three American companies, had submitted the complaint against Chinese and Indonesian exports of coated paper.

The three companies involved are NewPage Corp, Appleton Coated LLC and Sappi Fine Paper North America.

Gerard estimated that US imports of coated paper had jumped 40 percent from a year earlier in the first half of 2009, and products from China and Indonesia accounted for nearly 30 percent of the US market.

However, according to China's General Administration of Customs, China's exports of coated paper to the US totaled 278,000 tons last year, less than 3 percent of US coated-paper consumption.

"China does not provide subsidies for paper producers," said Li Shixin, an analyst at Guosen Securities Co. "China is not dumping either. The low price is the result of China's cheaper labor costs, as well as the falling price of pulp on the global market since last year."

Li said that if the US government imposed tariffs on Chinese and Indonesian exports of coated paper, it would raise the costs for US producers and make products such as leaflets, magazines and books more expensive for US consumers.

The union said the case is expected to take about a year to complete after the petition is filed with the US Department of Commerce and the US International Commission.


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