Hearings and Business Meetings
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon Medford City Council Chambers 12:00 PM
Hearing on the Impact of Chinese Hardwood Plywood Trade on the National Forest System and Other
May 30, 2007
Mr. Chairman. Thank you for taking the lead on this very important issue to workers in
First, this industry has a high job multiplier. Depending on the economic analysis you read, it is somewhere between four and six. This means that for every one person employed by the forest products industry, there are somewhere between four and six other Americans employed in support industries – such as logging, transportation, utility and retail – who rely on this industry for their jobs.
Second, these are the good manufacturing jobs that we should be striving to keep in the
As you mentioned in your opening statement, more than 70 percent of the companies in the hardwood plywood industry are headquartered in this state. There is no doubt that the future of this industry is of significant importance to
The timing of this hearing is very important, as it comes on the heels of last week’s Strategic Economic Dialogue talks in
But this is quickly changing. Thanks to your efforts along with a few other Members of Congress, the reporting of a few news outlets and the attention of a handful of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, the country and the world are beginning to realize what the hardwood plywood industry and its workers have known for many years – the Chinese do not play by the rules and will do whatever is necessary to establish global dominance.
What makes Chinese actions even more worrisome is that they go to such great lengths to lure well paying, highly skilled manufacturing jobs that were formerly held by unionized workers in
Rather than recapping what the problems are, I would like to spend a few minutes of the Committee’s time talking about some of the consequences of this activity.
Illegal Subsidies – Several studies have documented that the Chinese government has subsidized its forest products industry to the tune of nearly two billion dollars over a five-year period. Chinese mills are quickly becoming some of the most modern and efficient in the world, while American workers are forced to compete in older mills since the industry can no longer fund necessary improvements to keep them competitive. It doesn’t take a MBA from Yale to understand the long term consequences.
Customs Issues – By mislabeling exports to avoid duties, the Chinese make it harder for
Fraudulent stamping and illegal logging – In recent years, American companies and consumers have become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainably harvested wood products. However, as the
Lack of reciprocal market access – While it remains fashionable for proponents of so-called “free trade” to claim that labor is opposed to trade, that is, of course, false. Organized labor supports trade as long as it is fair and the country we are trading with gives us reciprocal market access. When we lose access to such a quickly growing market, we lose access to one of the ways to grow our industry outside of
So what are the next steps?
We need to adopt the tactics of other groups that have begun to show some success in getting the Chinese government to act on issues such as
First, we need to put the
Moreover, steps that you and other Members of Congress have taken are just the first steps. Not only do we need to see the U.S. International Trade Commission complete its current investigation, but we need to see action from the Administration. Not only do we need more hearings on the Chinese forest products industry, but we also need Congress to revise the Lacey Act with the input of industry, labor and the environmental movement in order to help curb illegal logging.
Finally, we need to promote the fact that American wood products are harvested legally. This can happen in two ways. First, the wood products industry can promote their work so that Americans concerned about illegal logging know that the “Made in the
These are just the first steps. Much more needs to be done. The Oregon AFL-CIO looks forward to working with you in the future to find solutions to this problem.