Unfairly traded goods are coming from foreign countries, with those governments subsidizing an industry so they can “dump” their product below cost in the United States and undermine domestic producers.

That’s been the rallying cry for months for the U.S. iron ore and steel industry, but it’s now being claimed for the domestic paper industry.

The International Trade Commission of the U.S. Commerce Department on Thursday held a hearing in Washington, D.C., in which they heard that illegal government subsidies of foreign papermakers are putting jobs at risk in places like International Falls. That’s where the former Boise, now Packaging Corp. of America, plant employs 580 people making white office paper.

Not only are the paper mill jobs at risk, but so are jobs in the broader forest products industry - the loggers, truckers and suppliers who help get trees to the mills to make paper.

The United Steelworkers of America, Packaging Corp. of America, Domtar Corp., Finch Paper and Glatfelter Co. filed the anti-dumping complaints now being considered by the ITC.

The complaints seek steep duties on white paper from China, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and Portugal. The ITC imposed preliminary duties on paper from those nations in August with a final determination expected Feb. 20.

U.S. paper industry supporters say that even as domestic demand for uncoated copier and commercial printing paper is declining, imports of that paper increased nearly 72 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Over that same period, imported paper jumped from 9.6 to 17.4 percent of the total U.S.market.

At Thursday’s hearing in Washington, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, joined by lawmakers from other papermaking states, said huge quantities of subsidized paper are flooding the U.S. market in violation of U.S. trade laws. Nolan noted that the domestic paper industry already has shed 2,500 jobs in the past five years as mills have closed, unable to compete against cheaper foreign paper.

Nolan said there is “clear and unmistakable evidence that large paper producers’’ from the foreign nations are “putting severe and unfair competitive pressure on American workers, American jobs and American manufacturers,’’ with China and Indonesia the worst offenders.

Nolan blamed imported paper for the 2013 downsizing of the International Falls mill that cut 265 jobs and reduced production.

“We cannot allow that investment in the future of International Falls to be disrupted by the egregious and illegal dumping of subsidized foreign products,’’ Nolan said in a statement Thursday. “The fact is, unfair foreign trade practices like those in question today put pressure on the very fabric and survival of communities like International Falls.”

Duties imposed on imported coated paper

In a similar case for a different kind of paper, the ITC on Oct. 22 determined that the U.S. coated paper industry remains “threatened with material injury by reason of imports of certain coated paper suitable for high-quality print graphics using sheet-fed presses from China and Indonesia that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

As a result of that action, the Commerce Department is issuing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of these products from China and Indonesia. The complaint was filed by several U.S. paper companies, including New Page Corporation, which at the time owned the West Duluth paper mill, and Sappi Fine Paper, which operates a mill in Cloquet. The United Steelworkers also joined the complaint.

U.S. papermakers say Chinese and Indonesian imports have increased by 40 percent since 2009 and now make up 30 percent of the U.S. coated paper market. The unnatural growth in foreign paper production has driven U.S. producer shipments down to 38 percent of the U.S. market. Industry officials say more than 150,000 papermaking jobs have been lost in the U.S. since 2002.

The Sappi mill in Cloquet employs about 750 people while the former New Page mill in Duluth, now owned by Verso Paper, has about 250 workers.

In November the ITC also imposed duties on so-called supercalendered paper produced by Port Hawkesbury and other Canadian papermakers. U.S. producers said the company was essentially given free trees for wood fiber and discounted electricity by Canadian government officials striving to support their industry, allowing the company to sell their product below its true cost.

That specific type of glossy, coated paper is made at the Verso mill in Duluth.