The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has overturned recently implemented tariffs on Canadian newsprint imposed by the Trump administration. The tariffs have been in effect since the Commerce Department imposed them in January and range as high as 20 percent on any newsprint imported from Canada. Dozens of regional newspapers across the country have been unable to contend with the increased costs.
Under US law, there is a two-part process for making tariffs permanent. In addition to a ruling from the Commerce Department, the ITC must find that the US paper industry was harmed or threatened by the imports from Canada. In a unanimous decision by the five-member body, the ITC “determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada.” The commission also wrote that the details of its findings will be published by Oct. 8.
North Pacific Paper Company, a Washington State-based paper mill, had filed a complaint with the Commerce Department alleging that Canadian government subsidies to newsprint manufacturers put American paper companies at a disadvantage. The company claimed that prices had dropped so low for its paper that there was no need for all three of its machines to be running. Norpac was the only manufacturer to file a complaint.
Craig Anneberg, Norpac’s chief executive, released a statement saying, “We are very disappointed in the U.S.I.T.C.’s negative determination, given that the record clearly shows that the domestic industry has been materially injured by dumped and subsidized imports from Canada. We intend to review the U.S.I.T.C.’s written determination when it is issued in a few weeks, and we will assess our options at that time.” The company can appeal the commission’s ruling.
Members of a coalition of printers and publishers cheered the ruling as the right decision for their industry. David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, said, “The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing and publishing sectors.” Andrew Johnson, president of the National Newspaper Association and owner of three weekly newspapers in Wisconsin, said, “This is a great day for newspapers. It sends a loud message.”