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Editorial: Oppose tariffs on newsprint

Editorial: Oppose tariffs on newsprint

Misguided protectionist measures hurt newspapers, publishers, economy
Editorial: Oppose tariffs on newsprint
Daily Gazette press operators do a press run with rolls of newsprint at the ready, March 24, 2017.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The Trump administration has recently been talking big about imposing tariffs on other countries’ products to protect American businesses and jobs, and to keep the prices we pay for certain items low.

But one particular tariff is having exactly the opposite effect, and it very well might affect the very product you’re holding in your hands right now.

Last month, the U.S. government — responding to a plea by a lone Washington state paper mill, North Pacific Paper Co. (NORPAC) — began imposing huge tariffs on the importation of newsprint into the U.S. from Canada.

Many newspapers, big and small, rely on newsprint manufactured in Canada, since there are very few regional paper mills in the U.S. that produce the type of paper used by these businesses.

Many print publishers operate on small profit margins, if any. One of the ways they’re able to stay in business and keep prices in line is by purchasing their newsprint at a reasonable price.

Since the tariffs were announced and implemented, newsprint prices have increased in some cases 20-30 percent.

For some publishing companies on the fiscal edge, that increase could be the difference between staying in business or folding up shop, laying off their local workers and ending purchases from their suppliers, which in turn could lead to more layoffs and business closures in the local communities they serve.

Those that stay in business may be forced to cut back their products or raise prices on their customers.

We’re talking, selfishly, about newspapers like ours. We admit it. This directly affects our business. But we’re also talking about the publishers of smaller community newspapers and penny-saver publications. We’re talking about book publishers and commercial printers.

If these tariffs are allowed to continue, it could begin to affect the quality of the news that newspapers are able to provide, since some might have to cut staff.

Newspapers still provide citizens with valuable information about national, state and local government, schools, community activities, business, entertainment and sports. We’re still the public’s strongest advocate for government accountability and transparency. We’re still where you turn to for opinions,  recipes, comics, puzzles and clips from your kids’ sporting events and honor societies.

Because of the negative impact, chambers of commerce, economic development officials and political leaders oppose the tariffs. Even the American Forest and Paper Association, the national trade association for the U.S. paper industry, opposes the NORPAC petition.

These tariffs are not needed to protect American paper manufacturers. They won’t compel paper mills to start producing more newsprint. They won’t add jobs. They will only take them away.

The International Trade Commission is investigating the tariffs and seeking public input. A final decision could come by mid-September.

Contact your representative in Congress and tell them to put a stop to these industry-killing tariffs.

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