Stop the presses? Tariffs on Canadian newsprint would imperil US industries
One paper mill in Washington state, owned by a hedge fund in New York City, has succeeded in imperiling many publishing firms across the country.
Last year, the North Pacific Paper Co. filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce. It alleged that its business is hurt by Canadian paper mills being subsidized by their government. Since 2016, NORPAC has been owned by the hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners.
Astoundingly, the Department of Commerce agreed in January to impose preliminary anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper. This paper is used by newspaper companies, such as the Johnson Newspaper Corp.
The combined tariffs range up to 32 percent, according to the group Free Community Papers of New York, Watkins Glen. They load U.S. printing and publishing firms with excessive costs and put thousands of jobs at risk.
Companies across the northern regions of the United States depend on Canadian paper mills to supply them what they need. It’s infuriating that the federal government would impose tariffs to financially benefit a single paper producer. Opposition to the tariffs has come not only from newspaper companies but also from domestic paper-producing firms, trade organizations and the forest industry.
Late last month, a group called Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers was formed. It wants to keep the pressure on the International Trade Commission as it continues its investigation into NORPAC’s petition. The ITC will hold a public hearing in August and make its final determination in September.
These tariffs would severely harm many companies while fattening the pockets of hedge fund managers. Those making up STOPP include the American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Association of American Publishers, Association for Print Technologies, Book Manufacturer’s Institute, Catalyst Paper, FCPNY, Independent Free Papers of America, Inland Press Association, Kruger, Local Search Association, National Newspaper Association, News Media Alliance, Printing Industries of America, Quad Graphics, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Resolute Forest Products, Southeastern Advertising Publishers Association, Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, Trusted Media Brands (formerly Readers Digest Association), Valassis Communications and Worzalla.
According to information from STOPP’s website, NORPAC’s claims fall short for several reasons:
■ Most Canadian imports are outside of NORPAC’s regional market;
■ A decades-long shift toward digital platforms is the reason for the financial harm to U.S. newsprint producers, not unfair prices from Canada;
■ Tariffs will hurt, not help, the U.S. newsprint industry;
■ The request from a sole petitioner threatens thousands of jobs in the United States;
■ A decrease in demand for newsprint of 75 percent since 2000 has resulted in the closure or conversion of U.S. paper mills.