Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
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The People's Republic of China has been making moves to ruin a major company in Astoria, Oregon and take control of a portion of the port. Do we want the Chinese to hold major ports? I don't believe so.

In Astoria dealings between an Astoria log exporter Westerlund and its giant Chinese customer China National Building Materials Import & Export Co. have suddenly turned sour. The company is part of a $30-billion-a-year business partially owned by the People's Republic of China. The Chinese agreed to a contract with Westerlund where $60,000 per shipload of logs would go against the $3.55 million that was borrowed from them. Now the Chinese wants that money too. Westerlund filed suit for breach of contract and the Chinese countered sued with the same and they want $17 million.

The Chinese also filed suit against Westerlund's creditors and has decided to try and force the sale of the company's equipment. This move by the Chinese brings reason to believe that the Chinese are trying to put this American company out of business. Why would a company force a sale of another companies equipment needed to perform operations that would be used to make money to pay off the debt they were owed, unless -the Chinese wants to choke Westerlund out of business and take control of the port.

Strong Asian demand has pushed log prices to near 20-year highs. Oregon exports have spiked in the last 6 years. All along the Pacific Coast cities and port districts are scrambling for their share of the action. Massive cutting of timber all through Oregon has been observed. The Chinese have openly out bid and out priced most local companies out of the competition. Except Astoria Forest Products who was granted a sublease from the port of Astoria under Westerlund and has started exporting themselves." The Chinese think they have an exclusive right to export in Astoria," said Dennis Murphy Jr., of Astoria Forest Products. "They're trying to control the port." "

There were 2 billion board feet of logs exported from Oregon, Washington and Northern California last year," "That's enough to supply 25 large mills in the Northwest employing thousands. Since 2009, 43 freighters loaded with 183 million board feet of logs have departed Astoria. The company employs more than 70. Westerlund's log exports quickly became one of the biggest revenue producers for the Port of Astoria. Between lease payments and tariffs, log exports have made more than $4.2 million for the port since 2010.

The port has come up with a plan for an $8.8 million renovation of its pier 3 into a significantly larger export operation. In order to renovate- the port is actively seeking federal grant money. Here lies the question should the taxpayers of America pay for renovations in order for the port to send out raw materials to China. I believe the ports should seek taxpayers money to renovate sawmills in Oregon, Washington and California where American workers can get raw materials and then finish the lumber- then it can be exported through the port to destinations overseas. Let The People's Republic of China pay for finished products. Let American workers have a chance to work and be productive and have their tax dollars help and benefit Americans and not the Chinese.


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