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U.S. tax on Canadian newsprint presses on

Aug. 23, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commerce Department is going ahead with a tax on Canadian newsprint, a threat to the already-struggling American newspaper industry.

The revised tariffs unveiled Thursday are mostly lower than those originally imposed earlier this year. But they would still hit the paper used by newspapers and other publications with an antidumping border tax as high as 16.88 percent.

The tariffs are a response to a complaint from 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. Still, Commerce decided to spare two Canadian producers from the antidumping charges.

In addition to antidumping duties, Commerce is imposing newsprint levies ranging from 0.82 percent to 9.81 percent to counter Canadian subsidies.

The Commerce decision is not final. The independent U.S. International Trade Commission could change or kill the tariffs in a ruling scheduled for next month.

Newsprint is usually the second-highest cost for newspapers. Already contending with falling readership and plummeting advertising revenue, newspapers are struggling as the tariffs drive up the cost of newsprint.

For instance, the Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton, N.C, last week announced it was dropping its eight-page color comics sections from its Sunday edition to cut costs.

“Readers in our towns will welcome the news that their local newspapers are in a little less in jeopardy from devastating tariffs,” said Susan Rowell, president of the National Newspaper Association and publisher of the Lancaster News in South Carolina. “We appreciate the Commerce Department’s more careful review of the paper markets. But this use of trade laws to weaken our economies still puts communities at risk of losing their local newspapers.”

Other papers have turned to layoffs to help offset the additional costs of newsprint.

 

By PAUL WISEMAN and KEVIN FREKING, PAUL WISEMAN and KEVIN FREKING, The Associated Press
Published: August 2, 2018, 10:37 PM
The Columbian, News section