Chi­nese pa­per com­pany weighs plant in Arkansas

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

China’s mid­dle class is ex­pand­ing an­nu­ally, and the mar­ket for th­ese items ... is ex­pected to main­tain a sus­tained growth.”

A Chi­nese pa­per com­pany will study the fea­si­bil­ity of build­ing a $1.3 bil­lion pulp mill in Arkansas as the state’s gov­er­nor com­pletes a trade mis­sion to Asia.

Sun Pa­per, based in Shan­dong prov­ince and em­ploy­ing more than 10,000 glob­ally, is con­sid­er­ing an Arkansas site for what would be the com­pany’s first fa­cil­ity in North Amer­ica. Sun Pa­per is ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion on the new plant by May.

Arkansas Gov­er­nor Asa Hutchin­son was sched­uled to con­clude a trade mis­sion to China and Ja­pan on Tues­day. On Mon­day, he joined Hongxin Li, chair­man and founder of Sun, in sign­ing a let­ter of in­tent be­tween the com­pany and Arkansas eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials for the pos­si­ble de­vel­op­ment of a fluff pulp mill, whose prod­ucts would be used in baby di­a­pers and other san­i­tary items.

Pa­trick McCarthy, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Pa­per Busi­ness and In­dus­try Stud­ies at the Ge­or­gia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in At­lanta, said fluff pulp is a raw ma­te­rial that can be dried and shipped.

“China’s mid­dle class is ex­pand­ing an­nu­ally, and the mar­ket for th­ese items in China is ex­pected to main­tain a sus­tained growth. A ques­tion then is whether China is buy­ing this ca­pac­ity not to sup­ply the do­mes­tic (US mar­ket), but to sup­ply the world and, in par­tic­u­lar the Chi­nese mar­ket,” he said in an e-mail.

McCarthy said China has shut down some of its “… old pol­lut­ing mills and is build­ing state-of the-art mills”.

The Arkansas Busi­ness web­site said it first re­ported on the pro­posal in 2013, and pre­vi­ous re­ports in­di­cated that the pulp mill could em­ploy 350 in one of two south Arkansas towns: Arkadel­phia or Cam­den. Other sources later sug­gested Cros­sett as a pos­si­bil­ity.

Cam­den has an aban­doned In­ter­na­tional Pa­per Co site and boun­ti­ful wa­ter sup­ply, and Sun Pa­per also has a joint ven­ture with IP to pro­duce high-qual­ity ivory board for liq­uids and food pack­ag­ing; Arkadel­phia has quick ac­cess to In­ter­state 30, Arkansas Busi­ness re­ported.

In 2002, Arkansas vot­ers passed Amend­ment 82 to the state Con­sti­tu­tion, whereby the Leg­is­la­ture could ap­prove the use of up 5 per­cent of gen­eral rev­enue for in­cen­tives to bring in eco­nomic projects.

If the mill is built in Arkansas, Sun would not be the first Chi­nese pa­per com­pany in the US. Last year, Shan­dong Tran­lin Pa­per Co Ltd said it would in­vest $2 bil­lion over five years to es­tab­lish its first US man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion, in Ch­ester­field County, Vir­ginia.

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