A recent letter from a bipartisan group of senators, including both from Minnesota, calls for an investigation into paper imports from foreign countries which may be hurting the industry.

Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken signed a letter calling for the U.S. International Trade Commission to look into uncoated paper imports from Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal.

According to the letter, the U.S. uncoated paper industry faces unfair trade practices which puts the industry at a competitive disadvantage as imports are dumped at significant margins and benefit from government subsidies.

The letter cites the closure of 15 uncoated paper machines at eight mills in the U.S. that have shut down since 2011, eliminating nearly 2,500 jobs.

“The pace of mill and paper machine closures has accelerated as imports have grown,” the letter reads. “These closures are devastating not only for the companies and workers directly involved, but for thousands of families, small businesses, and local and state governments that rely on paper mills for their livelihoods and economic survival. We ask that you thoroughly and objectively review the facts in this case and help ensure that American businesses and workers are able to compete on a level playing field.”

The eight mills that have experienced layoffs since 2011 are:

Boise Paper, International Falls, 256 workers.

Domtar in Ashdown, Ark., 110 workers.

Georgia-Pacific in Crossett, Ark., 20 workers.

Harbor Paper in Hoquiam, Wash., 175 workers.

International Paper in Courtland, Ala., 1,127 workers.

Lincoln Paper and Tissue, Lincoln, Maine, 200 workers.

Mohawk Fine Papers, Hamilton, Ohio, 137 workers.

Wausau Paper, Brokaw, Wis., 450 workers.

The Domtar Corporation and Packaging Corporation of America have filed antidumping petitions against unfairly priced imports of uncoated paper, which includes copy paper, as well as paper used in books, brochures, maps, business forms and flyers.

A March 6 release from the ITC states the commission has determined there is a “reasonable indication” the U.S. uncoated paper industry is “materially injured or threatened with material injury” because the imports “are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value and that are allegedly subsidized by the governments of China and Indonesia.”

Because of the commission's determination, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigation on imports of these products from Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal, with preliminary determinations on offsetting duties due sometime in April.