On behalf of International Paper and the 650-plus employees working at our Georgetown, S.C., paper mill, I want to express our support for Trade Promotion Authority. We applaud U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott for voting in favor of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 last month. TPA is critical to completing trade agreements that open new markets for South Carolina paper, pulp and packing products.

In 2014, International Paper exported nearly 23 percent of its U.S. manufactured products while importing into the U.S. market less than 0.001 percent (67 tons) of what we manufactured overseas. Approximately 7,300 U.S. jobs are linked to exports and there are about 4,500 of our small and medium supplier companies also linked to trade. Right here in Georgetown, we export 60 percent of the products we make to customers in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Exports are of growing importance for the U.S. forest products industry accounting for more than 15 percent of the industry’s annual total sales. In 2014, the industry’s global exports totaled an estimated $32.2 billion, of which $22.3 billion were exports of pulp and paper. Bilateral and regional negotiations on free trade agreements provide opportunities to eliminate or significantly reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers on wood and paper products with selected trading partners. These agreements open global markets for U.S. products and provide American companies with new opportunities.

By passing TPA, Congress helps the president negotiate stronger deals with our trading partners around the globe and ensures that congressional trade priorities are reflected in any negotiated agreement as TPA provides Congress with the final say with an up-or-down vote on all negotiated trade agreements. We need Congress to pass TPA legislation as soon as possible this year so we can take advantage of this opportunity to expand our business.

Jeannine Siembida

Mill Manager

International Paper

Georgetown