The U.S. International Trade Commission voted today to overturn the tariffs on Canadian newsprint put into place earlier this year by the Trump administration.
In January, anti-dumping and countervailing duties were levied on Canadian paper after the U.S. Department of Commerce determined that Canadian imports of uncoated groundwood paper — which is used by U.S. newspapers, book publishers and other commercial printers — was being subsidized by the Canadian government by an average of 6.53 percent and sold in the U.S. at less than fair value.
Duties of 4.42 percent to 9.93 percent were levied on that paper in January, driving up costs for U.S. newspaper publishers, an industry already taking big financial losses as circulation numbers and advertising rosters for print publishers plummet to historic lows with each passing year.
The Tampa Bay Times famously blamed the tariffs as the reason it was forced to cut 50 jobs in July. That publisher said the cuts were needed to compensate for what amounted to an additional $3.5 million in new paper costs.
The USITC in a statement today said it had determined that paper imports from Canada do not hurt U.S. paper producers. As a result of the trade commission’s unanimous decision, the USITC said no countervailing duty orders would henceforth be issued on imports of this product.
The decision was hailed as a win for newspaper publishers of all sizes, including advocacy groups such as Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers, a coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors which was formed in a bid to oppose the newsprint tariffs.
“Today is a great day for American journalism. The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing and publishing sectors,” News Media Alliance president and CEO David Chavern said in a statement. “The end of these unwarranted tariffs means local newspapers can focus once again on playing a vital role in our democracy by keeping citizens informed and connected to the daily life of their communities.”
“From the start, we knew this tax on newsprint would immediately harm commercial printing companies, book printers, service companies, equipment suppliers and ultimately, consumers,” Printing Industries of America president and CEO Michael Makin said. “After analyzing the facts, the ITC has issued the right decision to protect American jobs across the country. Small businesses that are part of the printing industry can breathe a sigh of relief.”
The Commerce Department initially imposed those duties after a petition was filed by Longview, WA-based paper producer North Pacific Paper Company, which claimed that Canadian uncoated groundwood paper producers were benefitting from “significant levels of government subsidies,” creating unfair competition that has caused nearly a dozen U.S mills to shutter and America’s groundwood paper industry’s production capacity to plummet nearly 70 percent since 2012.
NORPAC, a leading manufacturer of newsprint and publication paper products, had commended the Commerce Department’s initial January decision, saying countervailing duties would “offset the unfair advantage provided by Canadian government subsidies.”