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Schumer Pledges Action Against Predatory Paper Imports Threatening NY Mills

Liz West/ Flickr

New York Senator Charles Schumer was in Glens Falls this week to highlight the need for the International Trade Commission to take action to curb predatory trade practices he says threaten the paper industry.

Senator Schumer toured the Finch Paper Company in Glens Falls on Tuesday. The paper manufacturer has been in business for 150 years.  While company officials say business is strong, they also say it is being threatened by so-called dumping of foreign paper products in U.S. markets.

Senator Schumer wants the International Trade Commission to conduct an investigation into foreign companies’ and countries’ imports that are undercutting the industry and enforce anti-dumping laws.  “Finch is being threatened by foreign companies that have stepped up their efforts to sell paper products on U.S. soil at artificially low, illegal prices. Undermining Finch and hurting its bottom line. These companies are doing this in a practice called dumping. Eight paper mills across the U.S. have closed in recent years because of predatory trade practices from countries like China, but also Indonesia, Australia, Brazil, Portugal. Finch is too important to our local economy and to its employees to sit idly by and let this go unchecked.”

Finch Paper CEO Debabrata Mukherjee says over the past 18 months, they have lost millions in sales due to the illegal imports.  “From 2011 to 2013 we saw a 44 percent increase in shipments into the U.S. by our foreign competitors. From January through September 2013 through the same period 2014 we saw another 44 percent increase. So we saw a tremendous increase, unnaturally so. We have lost tens of millions of dollars in sales that has resulted from this increase of foreign imports at lower pricing levels. We have done good in spite of it but we need a level playing field.”
Senator Schumer adds  “They haven’t had to lay off people. But if there were no Chinese dumping, now that the market is coming back they’d be able to increase sales and hire more people.”

Steve Scarselletta represents the United Steel Workers Local 18 at the Finch manufacturing plant.  “We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t had any layoffs, but our numbers went down through attrition or whatever. I think what Mr. Schumer got is getting out in front of this so the momentum of the Asian markets or the European markets coming over here and undercutting our prices. All we’re looking for is a level playing field, exactly what he said. He was spot on. But it’s like anything, we don’t want to see it gain any momentum. That’s our biggest fear. Locally, or in the state of New York, there’s not a lot of paper mills going in. So that’s our biggest concern.”

Senator Schumer, a Democrat, says the International Trade Commission investigation could lead to duties being imposed on the foreign paper products that would counterbalance the undercut in pricing.  

Audio is courtesy Mountain Lake PBS.

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