The International Trade Commission’s rejection of newsprint tariffs on imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada is good news for newspapers struggling with the added costs.
The ITC’s Aug. 29 ruling that U.S. newsprint producers were not materially harmed by imports from Canada effectively puts an end to protective tariffs that the Commerce Department imposed earlier this year and revised in August.
The ruling is a victory for the U.S. newspaper industry, which complained that the rising cost of newsprint made it harder to operate and required them to trim the size of papers or lay off employees.
Dozens of lawmakers from both parties had urged the ITC to reject a complaint from a hedge fund-owned paper producer in Washington state that alleged dumping and subsidies had harmed U.S paper mills.
“We are delighted at the outcome,” said TPA Executive Director Mike Hodges. “The International Trade Commission clearly saw what our industry has been saying all along - that the case for a tariff was groundless and that American newspapers would be in grave danger if a tariff were made permanent. Our members’ involvement with the Texas Congressional delegation was crucial in our efforts to defeat the tariff and we deeply appreciate their hard work.”
TPA has been lobbying against the tariff for almost one year. The association joined a coalition led by News Media Alliance and National Newspaper Association.
“We applaud the International Trade Commission (ITC) for reaching a final, unanimous negative determination that Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper, which includes newsprint used by newspapers, do not cause material harm to the U.S. paper industry,” said David Chavern, president and CEO, News Media Alliance.
“The paper markets serving community newspapers can soon begin to move back to market pricing without the heavy hand of government imposing taxes upon the primary suppliers of newsprint,” said National Newspaper Association President Susan Rowell, publisher of the Lancaster (SC) News.
In March, the Commerce Department imposed preliminary tariffs as high as 30 percent during its investigation in response to a complaint from North Pacific Paper Corporation (NORPAC), based in Longview, Washington, which argued that its Canadian competitors took advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.
Newspaper industry officials were joined by 19 members of Congress in testifying against the tariffs at a Commerce Department hearing in July. In an Aug. 2 ruling, the DOC upheld the tariffs but revised them to slightly lower levels – still as high as 20 percent. The tariffs would have been unsustainable for newspapers, other printers and publishers and printers, according to industry officials.
“Fortunately, our voice was heard at the hearing, and the ITC made the right call in reversing these harmful tariffs,” Chavern said. “We hope the reversal of these newsprint tariffs will restore stability to the market and that publishers will see a full and quick recovery. Our democracy depends on it.”
“We will not know until mid-September the commission’s rationale for its vote of 5-0 against continuing newsprint tariffs,” Rowell said. “We understand it will take a couple of months for the preliminary tariffs to be unwound and credits to be issued back to those companies who had paid duties at the border since last January. But it is an enormous relief to know that the ITC does not find a basis for continuing sanctions.”