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An independent panel should examine how NAFTA and China's entry into the World Trade Organization are affecting American jobs, Rep. Louise Slaughter said during a visit Thursday.

Slaughter, D-Fairport, toured FMC Corp.'s Town of Tonawanda chemical plant to highlight her push for a five-member Trade Impact Review Commission. She also called for the U.S. Department of Commerce to enforce anti-dumping regulations against China.

FMC said the number of people involved directly in manufacturing at its Tonawanda plant has fallen from 152 people in 1996 to 91 today. It contends the job losses are due to product "dumping" in the United States by China. Dumping refers to selling an item for below cost to hurt competitors.

Philadelphia-based FMC says its Tonawanda plant is North America's sole producer of persulfate, which is used in applications such as etching circuit boards, paint pigments and swimming pool chemicals.

Daryl Largis, the Tonawanda plant's manager, said the overall market for persulfate has shrunk due to the economic slowdown. But he said FMC has been aggressive in trying to maintain market share.

"That has come at a cost to us in price," he said.

The U.S. Commerce Department six years ago imposed a 43 percent duty on persulfate shipped by China to the United States, following a case brought by FMC. That duty was subsequently removed in 2002.

"We believe this is hurting our ability to compete globally," Largis said.

FMC has invested $50 million in the Tonawanda plant since 1996, but has had to scale back its work force due to product dumping, said William Walter, FMC's chief executive officer, in testimony last week to a Congressional committee.

Slaughter said the panel she has proposed would also make recommendations to the president about future trade pacts.


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