U.S.: Tariffs continue on newsprint — for now

08/08/2018 12:00 - 15 total view

ELIZABETHTOWN |  The U.S. Department of Commerce is moving ahead with tariffs on imported Canadian newsprint, albeit lower than those initially proposed.
 
The tariffs will impose a 16.88 percent duty on groundwood paper, down from the 22 percent anti-dumping tax proposed earlier this year.

While the duties will be applied to just one firm, Catalyst Paper Company, the Trump administration also slapped new tariffs on several Canadian paper companies to counter their government subsidies.

The tariffs were imposed in January after a hedge fund-owned paper mill in Washington state complained about unfair trade practices it contended put American mills at a competitive disadvantage.

AWAITING ITC VOTE 

Industry officials welcomed the slight reduction, but continued to call for their full elimination when the International Trade Commission will conclude its final investigation and vote on Aug. 29.

The decision will be decided Sept. 17.

“Although this is a step in the right direction, the reduced rates only lessen the pace at which the tariffs are harming the industry,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance. “We hope that the International Trade Commission will entirely reverse these misguided tariffs at the end of the month.”

Ongoing tariffs would be poised to most effect newspapers in small, rural communities least positioned to absorb to increased costs.

The News Media Alliance found in a recent survey that most newspapers would not have been able to pass along the costs to subscribers, and that a permanent tariff may lead to an intensified shift to digital products in the industry, which would have further harmed U.S. groundwood paper producers and had a cascading effect on advertisers and printers.

The countervailing duties have had impacts on a newspaper industry already contending with seismic shifts in subscription and advertising models. 

The hikes have led to increased newsstand prices across the country. Other newspapers have chopped sections, reduced page counts and cut down on the frequency of publication.

And some media outlets, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Salt Lake Tribune, have laid off staffers to accommodate the increases.

According to the Pew Research Center, 39,210 people worked as reporters, editors, photographers, or film and video editors in the newspaper industry in 2017, down 15 percent from 2014 and a jawdropping 45 percent from 2004.

Sun Community News Publisher Dan Alexander said while the taxes have led to belt-tightening, they have not posed an existential threat to the family-owned company.

“We appreciate the opportunity to have the U.S. Department of Commerce weigh in on this important issues and we look forward to the International Trade Commission’s investigation which should be released later this month,” said Alexander.

Alexander said he was heartened that white birch paper will be reopening the Bear Island Mill in Virginia to increase tonnage for publishers and ease the overall availability of stock.

Federal lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation in Washington siding with the newspaper industry, including five members of New York’s House delegation who urged the U.S.
Commerce Department to drop the tariffs altogether.

“Lowering these unwise and unjust tariffs is a very positive step in the right direction to support our already at-risk community newspapers and the American paper industry and the many jobs it supports,” said U.S. Minority Leader Schumer in a statement. “I will now use my influence as the Senate Minority Leader to push the United States International Trade Commission to lower these unfair tariffs even more.”
Source: Sun Community News