Officials representing mills in Madison and Jay applauded a key ruling Wednesday by the U.S. International Trade Commission that will allow the U.S. Department of Commerce to continue imposing duties on supercalendered paper imported from Canada.

The ruling upholds allegations by the Coalition for Fair Paper Imports, which includes Madison-based Madison Paper Industries, that the Nova Scotian government has been providing illegal subsidies to Port Hawkesbury Paper, a Canadian producer of supercalendered paper, that have negatively impacted mills in the U.S.

“Madison Paper applauds today’s decision by the ITC, which confirms the injury our company has experienced as a result of imports of subsidized supercalendered paper from Canada,” said Russ Drechsel, president and CEO of Madison Paper, in a statement. “The Commerce Department found that Canadian supercalendered paper benefits from a variety of subsidies. We also appreciate the department’s decision to adhere to a difficult and resource-intensive time schedule in a case that included a number of complex subsidy programs.”

Supercalendered paper is a glossy paper often used in magazine publishing. In addition to Madison, Verso Corp.’s mill in Duluth, Minnesota, also produces supercalendered paper, and the two companies together make up the Coalition for Fair Paper Imports. The coalition filed an initial complaint with the International Trade Commission in February seeking higher duties on the paper made by the Nova Scotian mill.

“We are very pleased with today’s vote by the ITC,” said David J. Paterson, CEO of Verso, in a statement. “Verso’s paper operations have been adversely affected by unfair trade since the Port Hawkesbury mill reopened with the help of millions of dollars of subsidies from the Nova Scotia government. Now duties ranging from 17.87 to 20.18 percent will be imposed that offset the advantages that Canadian producers get from these subsidies.”

In July the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a preliminary ruling in response to the coalition’s complaint, placing preliminary duties of between 18 and 20 percent on shipments of supercalendered paper entering the U.S.

Drechsel said Wednesday that those duties will stay in place and that the Department of Commerce is scheduled to publish and start enforcing the final ruling in early December.

Both Verso and Madison have said in recent months that foreign competition has negatively affected their operations in Maine, including in a recent announcement of 300 layoffs at Verso’s Androscoggin Mill in Jay.

“This is a great day for the workers at the Madison Mill and other paper mills in the United States,” Michael Croteau, president of the United Steel Workers Local 36 union at the Madison mill, said in a statement. “We don’t want to see more jobs in this country lost to unfair imports, and today’s decision will help ensure that U.S. workers can compete on an equal footing. We thank the Department of Commerce and the ITC for all their hard work.”

The Maine Pulp and Paper Association also applauded the decision in a statement issued Wednesday, saying they have “long been an advocate for trade parity” and that the decision will allow Maine’s industry leaders to now focus on tackling other challenges facing paper mills in the state, including energy costs, taxation, wood costs and transportation.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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