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WASHINGTON – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) announced its top 2018 advocacy priorities that include free and fair trade, transportation efficiencies, regulatory process reforms and government policies that respect market dynamics for paper-based products. The association will pursue them as it supports the pulp, paper, packaging and wood products industry’s ability to grow the economy and create American manufacturing jobs.
“Enactment of historic comprehensive tax reform sets a welcome stage for AF&PA to focus on key 2018 advocacy priorities that will further our industry’s ability boost the economy and create jobs and opportunity for all Americans,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “Free and fair trade policy, efficient transportation measures, systemic regulatory process reforms and policies that respect market place competition and consumer choice for paper-based products rank high on our list. We are eager to continue working with the Administration and Congress and state governments to advance shared goals that will open the door for our companies to invest, innovate and compete at home and around the globe. With more than 900,000 employees in rural and urban communities across 45 states, we are one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation with an ability to thrive with the support of forward-thinking public policy.”
AF&PA’s top advocacy priorities for the coming year:
- Trade: Free and fair trade policies that recognize our strong global position are essential. As policymakers weigh potential changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we will work to ensure Canadian and Mexican markets remain open to our industry’s exports and recognize the benefits of our interconnected supply chain. Our priorities for NAFTA include maintaining open access for U.S. exports, a level playing field for U.S. companies, transparent and sound science-based regulatory practices, commitment to combat illegal logging and associated trade and retaining investor-state dispute settlement protections.
Additionally, we believe China has violated its obligation under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and will disrupt international trade and the global market for recovered fiber by their import-limiting actions. We will continue to urge Chinese authorities to immediately engage with the U.S. and other WTO member states to address our concerns.
- Transportation Efficiency: Access to globally-competitive freight delivery is essential. The forest products industry faces a nationwide shortage of transportation capacity and inefficiencies that must be addressed. Moving raw materials to mills and moving products to customers remains increasingly difficult and costly. Safely increasing truck weight limits on federal interstate highways and freight rail system rate and service improvements are necessary and have our continued support.
- Regulatory Reform: The cost, complexity and volume of regulations disproportionately affects manufacturers, and we commend the Administration for its focus on streamlining and eliminating unwarranted regulations and modernizing the permit process.We also look forward to supporting efforts to improve the regulatory process that will promote the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and job creation and enhance societal well-being.
- Paper-Product Policies: AF&PA supports policies that respect market dynamics and consumer choice. We expect a steady pace of state and local legislative and regulatory activity this year on paper and packaging recovery, fees and bans. We will promote our industry’s recovery of 67.2 percent of used paper and packaging for recycling and our commitment to continuous improvement of existing recycling systems as an alternative to unwarranted regulatory measures that distort markets for our products and harm consumers.
Additionally, we support legislative measures that help the United States Postal Service achieve long-term viability by realigning its outdated cost structure, encouraging new revenue resources and leveraging a unique infrastructure to meet the service needs of future customers. We will continue to follow Congressional action on postal reform and work with the Postal Regulatory Commission to ensure that mail is a preferred and competitive option in the marketplace.
AF&PA member companies continue to lead on sustainability performance. Our Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative - one of the most extensive sets of sustainability goals for a U.S. manufacturing industry – remains a priority.
The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance a sustainable U.S. pulp, paper, packaging, tissue and wood products manufacturing industry through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. AF&PA member companies make products essential for everyday life from renewable and recyclable resources and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative - Better Practices, Better Planet 2020. The forest products industry accounts for approximately four percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures over $200 billion in products annually, and employs approximately 900,000 men and women. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 45 states. Visit AF&PA online at www.afandpa.org or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper