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Government to investigate possible paper dumping

The U.S. International Trade Commission said Friday there is reason to believe that American manufacturers of coated free-sheet paper are being hurt by low-priced imports, and the federal government will investigate further.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said Friday there is reason to believe that American manufacturers of coated free-sheet paper are being hurt by low-priced imports, and the federal government will investigate further.

Sappi Fine Paper's mill in Cloquet and two of Stora Enso's Wisconsin mills manufacture coated free-sheet paper, which is used for books, magazines, catalogs and labels.

The Trade Commission said the Department of Commerce would continue to pursue investigations of imported coated free-sheet paper from China, Indonesia and Korea, and decide on a tariff about Jan. 24. Preliminary findings about whether the countries are dumping paper -- a legal term for selling products at less than cost in the United States and causing harm to the domestic industry -- are due around April 9.

In the past, Sappi and other domestic makers of coated paper have "voiced concern over the Korean government's willingness to subsidize the paper industry," spokeswoman Brooke Carey said in an e-mail. "As imports to the U.S. increase, particularly from Asia, U.S. paper manufacturers, including Sappi, face a greater challenge of manufacturing and selling paper at a profit," she added.

Sappi has not taken a position on the specific issue before the Trade Commission, Carey said.

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The coated free-sheet industry saw imports surge from 2002 to 2004, according to an article in Paper Age, an industry publication. But they fell in 2005 before heading up again this year.

The United Steelworkers union hailed the ruling. "The Commerce Department took an important first step in initiating a countervailing duty case to examine Chinese subsidies," USW International President Leo Gerard said in a news release.

New Page Corp. of Dayton, Ohio, brought the case to the Trade Commission and the investigation began in late October, according to a Trade Commission statement. New Page recently eliminated 130 jobs, which the USW blamed on unfair imports.

USW represents coated free-sheet paper employees at Sappi in Cloquet and Stora Enso in Kimberly and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

According to the Trade Commission, the domestic coated free-sheet industry has 10 companies that employ 7,464 workers and produced 4.6 million tons of paper in 2005.

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