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Tariffs on imported Canadian newsprint reversed

September 23, 2018

Newspapers around the country could catch a break now that the U.S. International Trade Commission has overturned tariffs on Canadian newsprint imposed this year by the Trump administration.

The commission on Wednesday determined that no U.S. paper producers are harmed by imports from Canadian paper mills, which supply about 60 to 70 percent of U.S. newsprint.

A public report describing the commission’s views and information that led to its decision will be available by Oct. 8.

The U.S. Commerce Department imposed the tariffs in January and increased them in March following a complaint from North Pacific Paper Company, or Norpac, a paper mill in Longview, Wash. The mill, owned by the New York-based hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners, claimed it was being harmed by subsidized newsprint from Canada.

According to the Commerce Department, nearly $1.3 billion worth of Canadian newsprint was imported into the United States in 2016. Five U.S. paper mills produce newsprint, compared to 25 in Canada.

The Trump administration this month said it planned to reduce tariffs on Canadian newsprint from 32 percent to around 17 percent overall, with some suppliers paying more than others.

Pennsylvania newspaper publishers, from small weeklies to large dailies, estimated the tariffs -- taxes on imported goods -- could add anywhere from $5,000 to more than $2 million to their costs this year.

Newsprint is typically the second-highest cost for newspaper companies after payroll.

Those costs would have been unsustainable for newspapers, printers and publishers, according to David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance. Chavern praised the International Trade Commission vote to reverse the tariffs.

“Over the last several months, while the Department of Commerce and the ITC conducted their investigations into the trade case, we have emphasized that the decades-long shift of news and information from print to digital platforms - not imports from Canada - is the cause of the decline in demand for newsprint,” Chavern said in a statement.

News Media Alliance, a trade group that represents about 2,000 newspapers across North America, lobbied against the tariffs.

The Tribune-Review has reduced page counts in its free weekly publications, eliminated some pages from its Sunday edition and implemented small increases in its single-copy prices to make up for the increased cost due to the tariffs, Trib Total Media President and CEO Jenn Bertetto said.

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