NEWPORT — Columbia Forest Products, which maintains a manufacturing facility in Newport, has been struggling for years to compete with illegal Chinese imports.
Following four years of advocacy, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today provided long overdue relief to the company.
In a unanimous ruling, the ITC voted 4-0 to impose significant tariffs on dumped and subsidized imports of Chinese hardwood plywood.
In 2012, Columbia Forest Products, a hardwood veneer and plywood manufacturer, filed a petition with the ITC protesting the dumping of cheap and illegal Chinese hardwood and veneer products that undercut its business in Vermont and around the country.
The vote is seen as a win for the local economy, as Columbia Forest Products is recognized as a key employer in the Northeast Kingdom.
“Today’s decision is great news for the employees of Columbia Forest Products,” said Rep. Peter Welch. “The company and its employees have been reeling from subsidized and illegal competition from China. This important decision will level the playing field for the company, preserve jobs, and ensure its continued contributions to the regional economy.”
According to the trade group Coalition for the Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, nationally, 42 mills have closed, many more have had to reduce capacity, with a loss of 52,000 jobs in the U.S. and $2 billion in wages.
In 2013, Rep. Welch personally testified before the Commission on the company’s behalf. In addition, Welch helped lead two Congressional letters of support for the industry to the Commission, one in 2013 and one this year.