Department of Commerce reaffirms newsprint tariffs, reduces duties

Yesterday, in a much anticipated decision, the U.S. Commerce Department reaffirmed the countervailing and anti-dumping duties it imposed on the imports of Canadian newsprint in January.

In yesterday’s decision, Commerce decided to spare several Canadian producers from the antidumping charges, revising the duties by setting them at 8.4 percent to 20.26 percent instead of the current 4.4 percent to 32 percent.

The tariffs are a response to a complaint from NORPAC, a hedge fund-owned paper producer in Washington State, which argues that its Canadian competitors are taking advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.

The Commerce decision is not final. Another decision on the matter will occur later this month when the International Trade Commission (ITC) decides whether to reverse the tariffs at the end of its investigation into whether imports have caused or threaten to cause material injury to the U.S. industry.

The ITC vote is expected on Aug. 29.

There are indications that opposition to the tariffs is building on both sides of the aisle in Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan contacted Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross directly to voice his concerns. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declared in a newspaper column that the tax “would do irreversible harm” to the newspaper industry.

California newspapers’ attention should remain focused on the ITC’s final determination on Aug. 29 and deadline for submitting public comments to the Commission, which is Aug. 20.

CNPA is working with members on both sides of the aisle of the California Congressional delegation to submit a letter to the ITC by Aug. 20 that expresses their significant concerns about the impact of the tariffs on California newspapers and asking the ITC to reverse the tariffs.

CNPA will also continue to work with the News Media Alliance, the National Newspaper Association and STOPP Coalition to convince the ITC it should reverse the duties because their continuance threatens the viability of newspapers, newsprint manufacturers and ultimately the coverage newspaper readers want and expect.