WASHINGTON — Federal regulators Thursday said they were reducing the penalty tariffs on Canadian-made paper vital to the newspaper industry.
Many in the publishing world and political arena had criticized the tariffs, imposed at the behest of a single Washington state paper mill, and some wondered if it was a product of President Donald Trump’s dislike for the news media.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has run with the issue as a job-killer since it emerged last winter, noting that some of New York’s 17,000 daily newspaper employees could lose their jobs as a result of sharply higher paper prices.
In July, he visited the sprawling Quad/Graphics printing plant in Saratoga Springs, another large consumer of imported paper, to press the point. Quad/Graphics CEO Joel Quadracci said at the time that imports are essential, as the U.S. paper industry cannot supply the needed quantities of paper.
In 2017, imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada were valued at an estimated $1.21 billion.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it had completed its investigation of dumping and subsidies by Canadian papermakers, and as a result reduced some of the duties imposed. The U.S. International Trade Commission, meanwhile, will issue a final determination of its own separate investigation in mid-September. The combined results of the two investigations will determine the amount of the antidumping and countervailing duties that are ordered.
Schumer on Thursday welcomed the reduction but said he will continue to press for full elimination of the tariffs.
“The final tariffs will still harm upstate New York’s newspapers and printers like Quad Graphics in Saratoga Springs, so the ITC should take decisive action later this month and eliminate these unwise tariffs,” he said in a news release.
A coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers that formed to fight the tariffs, Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers, said Thursday it too would continue to press for elimination of the tariffs, which it said already have caused job losses.
One member of the coalition, American Society of News Editors President Alfredo Carbajal, said in a news release:
“We are very disappointed that the Department of Commerce, in offering only a slight reduction in the overall tariffs, continues to prioritize the interest of a few ahead of the needs of many — namely the employees of printers, publishers, paper suppliers and distributors across the United States and the citizenry they ultimately help to inform. We in the newspaper industry exist to serve our readers; this decision will make our jobs harder, in part because we know we will be able to employ fewer people to do those jobs. We sincerely hope the International Trade Commission will fully eliminate these tariffs.”
Schumer said that the Department of Commerce decided to use its discretion to not apply the final dumping margin to most Canadian producers. This will mean that duties on most Canadian producers will drop from around 29 percent to 8.5 percent. Additionally, he said, a large Canadian supplier of some New York newspapers, Kruger, will see its duties drop from around 32 to 10 percent.