The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, says its 2017 advocacy priorities include “smarter regulations to unleash economic growth, comprehensive tax reform, efficient transportation and trade policies that advance U.S. competitiveness.” The association says it will pursue these over the coming year to support the paper and wood product manufacturing industry’s ability to create jobs and grow the economy.
“With 900,000 employees in family-wage jobs in large and small communities across 45 states, the forest products industry is the face of U.S. manufacturing. Our future grows even brighter when forward-thinking public policy unleashes our ability to invest, innovate and compete on a greater scale at home and around the globe,” says AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “We look forward to working with the new administration and Congress to achieve shared goals of growing the economy and creating opportunity for all Americans. Along that road, we will support policies that ensure regulations do more good than harm. And we will back key steps, including comprehensive tax reform, efficient transportation measures and trade measures that recognize our strong global market position to set a foundation for economic expansion now and in decades to come.”
In the area of smarter regulations to grow the economy, the AF&PA says the cost, complexity and volume of regulations disproportionately affect manufacturers. “Regulations must be designed to provide net benefits based on the best scientific and technical information through a transparent and accountable rulemaking process, with due consideration of the cumulative regulatory burden,” the association adds. In addition to working to resolve the regulatory treatment of biomass carbon, AF&PA says it will work “to stem the tide of overreach on air and water regulations affecting the industry, including modernizing the cumbersome air permit process and ensuring reasonable, science-based human health water quality criteria.”
The association says comprehensive tax reform is “critical” and will improve economic growth, job opportunity, capital investment and the competitiveness of U.S.-based businesses. “Lower tax rates are needed for all businesses, and reforms should support investment in U.S. manufacturing while recognizing the complex global supply chains that make robust US manufacturing possible,” the association says.
Regarding transportation efficiency, AF&PA says it is necessary to “safely” increase truck weight limits on federal interstate highways and to improve the freight rail system rate and service.
In the area of trade, the organization says, “U.S. paper and wood product manufacturers need unrestricted access to international markets and a level playing field among international competitors through the elimination of both tariff and nontariff barriers. Trade agreements that generate substantive economic benefit to U.S. forest products manufacturers and their workers should be maintained. Enforcement of trade agreements and laws that ensure all nations play by the rules so that trade flow are not arbitrarily distorted is essential.”
AF&PA members’ commitment to industry sustainability will continue as a priority, the association says, as well as its efforts to ensure federal policies give consumers the right to choose paper-based communications to receive essential government services.
In addition to federal policy issues, AF&PA says it continues to work in several states to address paper and paper-based packaging fees and bans, as well as ensuring that the carbon benefits of the industry’s biomass energy is reflected in state-based policies.