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China’s tariffs hurt local business

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    Jennifer DeFrancesco, the export manager of B&B Forest Products on Route 145 in Cairo, told county lawmakers the business has been negatively impacted by China’s trade tariffs.
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    Jennifer DeFrancesco, export manager of B&B Forest Products in Cairo, gave a presentation to the Greene County Legislature on Wednesday about how China’s trade tariffs will impact her family’s business.
November 8, 2018 10:02 pm

CATSKILL — An official with B&B Forest Products of Cairo appeared before the Greene County Legislature on Wednesday and sharply criticized China’s trade tariffs, which have adversely affected the local business.

Jennifer DeFrancesco, export manager for B&B, described the hardship the new taxes have imposed on her family’s business.

B&B, located on state Route 145, has been in business for 25 years specializing in hardwoods. China imposed a 10 percent tariff on U.S. imports in August, and an additional 15 percent increase is expected Jan. 6.

“We exported 33 million feet of wood or 8,250 loads last year,” DeFrancesco said. “This year we did 21 million feet, or 12 million feet less.”

B&B has 32 employees on-site and employs approximately 300 more indirectly for trucking and other services, DeFrancesco said.

“New York is third in the nation for logging exports and my business is one of the top exporters of hardwoods in the nation,” she said. “Forestry makes up $23 billion of New York’s economy.”

“Aren’t they hurting their own industry?” Legislator Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.

“Oh, absolutely,” DeFrancesco said. “Because of our seasons in New York, we have tight growth rings. They can’t replace our wood.”

In addition to the tax, China is also adding environmental regulations to U.S. imports such as debarking and fumigation. The equipment for these processes is costly, DeFrancesco said.

“Debarking equipment is $500,000 and for fumigation it is into the millions,” she said.

Debarking is also a time-consuming process. “It takes us three times as long,” DeFrancesco said.

The fumigation process involves hazardous chemicals that are totally unprecedented for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, DeFrancesco said.

“There’s an application online, but no one has ever used it before, she said.

“It seems like there is a lot of uncertainty,” Legislator Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, said.

Once B&B goes through the process of installing the fumigation equipment, it would be the only wood-product exporter north of New Jersey to have that kind of technology.

“Most companies take a slow-down in business and don’t buy the debarker,” DeFrancesco said.

U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, had drafted some legislation to implement safer chemicals in the fumigation process, DeFrancesco said.

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden asked DeFrancesco to send a copy of the legislation to county lawmakers so they could continue pursuing the issue.

Legislator William Lawrence, R-Cairo, wondered if a way around the tariff could be found.

“Could you import to Canada first and then China?” he said.

“I wish it were that easy,” DeFrancesco said.

One day after China’s announcement on April 27 to restrict log exports from the United States, the U.S. Forest Products Trade Coalition was formed.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets held its first Forestry and Wood Products Summit on Oct. 25 to discuss ways to help the forestry community, DeFrancesco said.

“I wanted to bring those ideas, and some of my own, to the county and see how they might be implemented,” she said.

In addition to the tariffs, logging companies and farmers have a new threat to worry about, DeFrancesco said.

“There’s a new invasive species called the spotted lantern fly that has been found in Suffolk County,” she said.

DeFrancesco called the lantern fly the worst pest farmers have encountered in 150 years.

“It will damage the fruit trees and grapes, which is of particular concern for New York wineries,” she said.

The ironies abound as the fumigation and de-barking is caused by concerns raised from the invasive Asian Longhorn Beetle, thought to have been introduced via building supplies from China. And the latest crop threat, the plant hopping spotted lantern fly, (Lycorma delicatula)) comes from China, India, and Vietnam. METHYL BROMIDE - the only chemical so far as I am aware that is approved for hardwood fumigation, is an ozone depleting chemical. Brom-o-Gas, Celfume, Embafume, MB, MeBr, Methogas, Profume, Terr-o-Gas, and Zytox are some of the product names containing this poison, which accounts for approximately 1,000 human deaths due to inhalation a year.

According to bills of lading B&B has a record of importing wood products from China ]B&b Forest Products imports from Yongkang Hardware City Import And in China through the port of New York/newark Area, Newark, New Jersey]
So, this is an import question as well as an export question: are the products being imported subject to the same processes? And, what are the environmental controls re. potential toxicity?

I noticed that all the spin in this issue locally concerns the dollar, but, human safety and the environment also figures into this somewhere down the line on a planet we all have to live on together.

Your facts about the fumigation chemicals are correct, however, the rest of your statements are not.

B&B has never imported a wood product.
The bill of lading that you reference above, clearly states “fabric signs”, which we did import for a different business that we own.

The danger of the chemicals is one that we take very seriously, which is precisely the reason why I have been working with government officials to persuade China to accept the much safer, sulfuryl fluoride.

There are no ironies in what we are trying to do.
In reference to the comments above. The link provided takes you to a single import container referencing the cargo as fabric signs. Not logs or lumber. They are an export company. The article pretty clearly states their concerns with the chemical process as well. The real question is why is the US being held to a higher standard than Russia and New Zealand when it comes to imported lumber. I think we all know the answer is punitive.
First of all, that you have shipped logs was ILLEGAL, when there was a clear regulation from the importer - China. You used to cut the corner to not to do fumigation or debarking, while it ALWAYS was a clear requirement. And now when you are forced to follow the regulation you are not happy? really? And how about other people which used to follow the official protocol and who could not compete, bcz they did not feel comfortable with grey scheme of HK phyto which you have used? And now you complain.. thats hilarious. The whole business was built on corrupted chinese port authorities closing eyes on HK phyto in China southern port. and now welcome to the real competition.