On July 17, the International Trade Commission will hear testimony on the preliminary newsprint tariffs imposed in January and March on Canadian newsprint.
TPA and other members of a national coalition have been lobbying members of Congress to testify against making the tariffs permanent.
Newspapers have already seen production price increases of up to 30 percent and promises of higher prices to come. Advertisers who rely on inserts are also seeing production increases, which is expected to lead to a loss of income for newspapers.
More Texas congressional support is needed, TPA Executive Vice President Donnis Baggett told members in his legislative update at the summer leadership retreat.
“Texas has 35 House members, and we have commitment for letters of support from seven representatives and verbal support from Sen. John Cornyn,” Baggett said. Texas representatives agreeing to send letters of support are Bill Flores (R-Bryan), Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), Roger Williams (R-Cleburne), Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas), Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon), Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) and Will Hurd (R-Helotes).
Three Texas representatives — Flores, Gohmert and Randy Weber (R-Friendswood) — also signed on as co-sponsors of a House bill that would stop the tariffs while a congressional study of the newsprint industry and newsprint markets is conducted.
Baggett said letters of support to the ITC are needed from members of Congress, state legislators, county and city officials, chamber of commerce leaders and others.
The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed the preliminary tariffs in response to a complaint from the North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) in Longview, Washington, after an August 2017 hearing when company officials said that Canadian paper manufacturers were being subsidized by the Canadian government and were able to offer lower prices, giving them an unfair advantage.
NORPAC was purchased in 2016 by New York hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners. It is one of five mills producing newsprint in the United States. No other newsprint manufacturers are supporting the tariffs.
Both the Commerce Department and the ITC found in preliminary investigations that uncoated groundwood paper, the classification that includes newsprint, was subsidized by the Canadian government and was then being sold below market value in the United States.
The Commerce Department levied its first tariff of 6.5 percent in January and added an additional 22 percent tariff in March.
Newspapers and others opposing the tariffs say the measures threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States.
NORPAC employs 400 full- and part-time workers. Since the tariffs were imposed, the plant has started up an idled paper machine and brought back 50 full- and part-time employees, officials said. The plant reports it is now at full capacity, producing 800,000 tons of paper and packaging annually.
After announcing a $30-per-ton increase in the price of standard newsprint Oct. 1, 2017, NORPAC announced increases of $22 per metric ton on April 1, May 1 and July 1 of this year.
The ITC, which has five bipartisan members selected by previous administrations, will conduct its hearing on July 17. A final determination about making the tariffs permanent will be released by the end of the summer.