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New Assessment Proposed on Imports of Paper and Paper-Based Packaging

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking comments by 4 March on a proposal to establish a new industry-funded marketing order for paper and paper-based packaging. The United States has a number of marketing orders in place to help provide stable markets to such agricultural products as cotton, fruits, dairy products, vegetables and specialty crops. The new programme would cover four types of products: (i) printing, writing and related paper (used to make products for printing, writing and other communication purposes), (ii) kraft packaging paper (used for products like grocery bags and sacks), (iii) containerboard (used to make corrugated boxes, shipping containers and related products), and (iv) paperboard (used for food and beverage packaging, tubes and other miscellaneous products). AMS notes that the goal of this programme would be to maintain and expand markets for paper and paper-based packaging.

The programme would be financed by an assessment on U.S. manufacturers and importers of subject merchandise and would be administered by a USDA-appointed board of industry members. AMS is proposing to initially set the assessment at US$0.35 per short tonne (one short tonne equals 2,000 pounds), although entities that manufacture or import less than 100,000 short tonnes per marketing year would be exempt from the payment of assessments as long as they apply for an exemption and re-apply every year thereafter. If an entity is both a U.S. manufacturer and an importer, its combined quantity of paper and paper-based packaging manufactured and imported annually would count towards the 100,000 short tonne exemption. Importers benefiting from an exemption would have their assessments as collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection refunded by the board of industry members within 60 calendar days after receipt of such assessments. AMS would hold a referendum among eligible U.S. manufacturers and importers to determine whether they favour implementation of the programme prior to it going into effect.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, in 2011 imports that would be covered under the proposed order totalled 7.5 million short tonnes. Of that total, 58.6 percent was from Canada, 22.2 percent was from Western Europe, 9.8 percent was from mainland China, Japan and the Far East, 2.7 percent was from South America and the remainder was from other countries. In terms of type, 72.0 percent of the imports was printing, writing and related paper, 13.1 percent was paperboard, 10.1 percent was containerboard and 4.8 percent was kraft packaging paper.

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