MECHANIC FALLS — Kathie Leonard has scored a preliminary victory in arguing that unfairly cheap imports have hurt business at her Auburn Manufacturing Inc.

Maine’s congressional delegation announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Commerce has found Auburn Manufacturing Inc. is being harmed by subsidized imports and has recommended a roughly 210 percent duty on top Chinese exporters of industrial grade amorphous silica fabric.

AMI is a producer of industrial textiles and is the largest producer of industrial-grade amorphous silica fabric, a high-temperature material, in America.

Leonard, CEO of Auburn Manufacturing Inc., said the Department of Commerce’s recommendation still needs to be voted on by the U.S. International Trade Commission before the duties can take effect.

The company would not recoup any of its losses to Chinese exporters, but Leonard said Thursday it has been worth the fight. 

“In a perfect world, I will get my business back, I will get my sales back, but it’s not a perfect world,” she said. “It is a little bit risky and that’s why you don’t see a lot of anti-dumping activity, because it’s not a sure bet you’ll get something back. But I think that we will. I think it’s just a matter of time when we’ll get some of the business back.”

Leonard has spent more than $500,000 in legal fees on three lawyers and two economists making the argument.

U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin testified in support of AMI on Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree submitted written testimony.

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