02 Jun

AS CHINA ORDERS HALT OF U.S. AGRICULTURAL IMPORTS, THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN TONGASS LUMBER COULD FURTHER HARM U.S. ECONOMY

U.S. China trade tensions escalate and plans to expand logging will deepen American economic loss

Alexandria, VA- Chinese government officials have begun advising major state-run agricultural companies to halt the importation of U.S.  agricultural goods, a move that ratchets up the already mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China.  

Some trade with China benefits the U.S. economy and should continue. Other relationships harm U.S. taxpayers and should cease. One such negative trade relationship exists in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska, where the majority of raw log exports from the forest are purchased by the Chinese.

This relationship leads to annual average subsidies of $30 million that hurts the U.S. taxpayer.  But a new proposal would expand logging of the Tongass National Forest even more and would only stand to increase American economic loss with the recent halt in agricultural trade between the two countries.

The U.S. Forest Service is expected to release its final proposed plan within weeks. 

Citizens for the Republic, the grassroots organization founded by Ronald Reagan, continues to advocate for the maintenance of the ‘Roadless Rule’ protections of the Alaska Tongass National Forest, lifting the proposal put forth by the Washington DC bureaucracy will open up nearly 10 million protected acres of the 16.7-million-acre forest to industrial-scale clearcutting and logging.  

The USDA’s 2016 “Tongass National Forest Demand: Projections for 2015 to 2030” stated that “the majority of southeast Alaska logs were sent to the Pacific Rim; the share of logs sent there was over 90% in both 2005 and 2011. China is by far the largest single purchaser.”

An April report put forth by the USDA and U.S. Forest Service discussing the “Extension of Certain Timber Sale: Contracts; Finding of Substantial Overriding Public Interest” states that: “China has been severely limiting or rejecting imports of softwood lumber and logs due to excess inventory at processing facilities. The oversupply situation has been exacerbated by China’s response to the COVID–19 situation, which led to a general stopping of manufacture and related decline in demand for a log supply and further restricted imports. This is having a significant impact on Alaska timber producers where market conditions are driven by log exports to China.” 

If the Roadless Rule is lifted, the expanded logging in the Tongass will generate millions for China’s economy–but little for America’s economy.

Watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense, in accordance with the 2016 Report from the Government Accountability Office, found in 2019 that American taxpayers subsidize the logging industry in the Tongass on average $30 million every year. The current protected areas of the Tongass provide for 28 percent of the commercial salmon harvest across the entire state, with the Alaskan fishing industry yielding $986 million annually. Tourism, recreational, and fishing/hunting industries within the protected Tongass employ over 10,000 Alaska residents.

 “The proposal to lift the Roadless Rule protections will enable increased production of raw log exports, to fulfill the demands of Chinese markets. By expanding logging, the Southeastern Alaska logging industry simultaneously expands dependency on China. Now more than ever, we cannot increase dependency on Chinese demand for wood, when the tensions between US and China are at an all-time high. Further logging in the Tongass to fulfill Chinese demand could result in epic losses, resulting in the overproduction of raw log exports with no viable buyers. It would be a waste to destroy the already prosperous economy of the Tongass for uncertain trade between US and China. Accordingly, the Roadless Rule should be retained on the Tongass National Forest,” says CFTR.

To schedule an interview with a spokesperson for Citizens for the Republic, please contact Francesca Goerg at fgoerg@sbpublicaffairs.com, or call 703.739.5920 

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