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Tariffs imposed on Chinese paper imports

DAYTON, Ohio -- The Commerce Department will impose sanctions against some Chinese paper imports, reversing 23 years of US trade policy, it said yesterday.

The agency sided with Dayton, Ohio-based NewPage Corp., which said the imports amount to unfair competition because Chinese companies received subsidies from their government.

Commerce will decide this month whether to make its decision final.

The tariffs would affect glossy paper, the kind used for catalogs, art books, and high-end magazines. NewPage, one of the biggest US producers, supplies paper to such magazine publishers as Time Warner Inc. and Hearst Corp.

In the past six years, 94 paper and paperboard mills have closed, leaving 410 at the end of 2006, according to the American Forest and Paper Association and RISI Inc., a Bedford, Mass.-based economic consulting company to the forest products industry.

Imports account for 28 percent of shiny paper -- called coated freesheet -- purchased by US businesses. That's up from less than 5 percent 10 years ago. China's exports to the United States have increased nearly tenfold, from 29,000 metric tons in 2004 to 264,000 metric tons in 2006.

Glossy paper accounts for about 6 percent of US paper and paperboard production. Sixteen US paper mills produce it, rolling out 5.6 million tons for $5.3 billion in annual sales.