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Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Hasten Local Newspapers’ Demise

By Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser
(August 9, 2018)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint is hastening the demise of local newspapers across the country, forcing already-struggling publications to cut staff, reduce the number of days they print and, in at least one case, shutter entirely.

Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wis., the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Mr. Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Mr. Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents.

Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day (read more.)

Economic Study Finds Newsprint Tariffs Will Raise Costs for Consumers, Harm U.S. Paper Producers

A study undertaken by Charles River Associates (CRA) on behalf of STOPP Coalition members, the News Media Alliance and Quad Graphics, analyzed the impact tariffs on Canadian newsprint will have on newspapers and printers.

The CRA analysis found that:

  • Newsprint prices are projected to increase by more than 30 percent or more than $190 per metric ton for newsprint;
  • Consumers, including newspapers and printers, will pay an increased cost of roughly a half a billion dollars for newsprint;
  • Demand from U.S. producers for newsprint will drop more than 300,000 metric tonnes; and,
  • An estimated loss of more than 250 U.S. newsprint jobs could follow a short spike in employment.

The author of the report, Dr.  Peter Boberg, Vice President in the Antitrust and Competition Economics Practice at CRA, summarized the findings by saying, “the immediate effect of the tariffs will be to raise prices substantially. The effect of higher prices initially will be to raise costs for consumers of newsprint (printers and publishers), thereby accelerating the downward spiral in demand for newspapers and consequently accelerating the decline in demand for newsprint. Higher prices will also provide an incentive for Canadian suppliers that face low individual tariff rates to increase their exports into the US. As a result, whereas the immediate effects of the tariffs on US output may be to increase US output, as US consumers and Canadian producers adjust to higher US prices, any gains to US producers will quickly evaporate. Tariffs will ultimately harm US producers by reducing demand for their output below pre-tariff levels.”

The study filed with the International Trade Commission on Tuesday, July 17 is available here. Business proprietary information has been redacted in this public version.

19 Members of Congress Testified in Front of the ITC to Urge Reversal of Newsprint Tariffs

Bolstered by the in-person appearance of 19 Members of Congress, America’s newspaper publishers, printers, retailers and small business made a compelling and substantive case for removing tariffs on newsprint produced in Canada during a hearing on July 17 before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

The message to the ITC was loud and clear: Import duties the U.S. Commerce Department slapped on newsprint to protect a single company are putting at risk the jobs of over 600,000 American workers in the paper, newspaper, retail, printing and publishing industries. A hike in the price of newsprint could push demand for the product way down and if newspaper and book publishers and advertisers buy less paper, then printers, equipment makers, and suppliers would also suffer.

Beyond this tangible economic impact, the tariffs threaten the existence of scores of local newspapers millions of Americans depend on for news and information relevant to their daily lives. Lawmakers warned the ITC this would weaken the viability and meaning of the First Amendment freedoms, create news deserts and undermine the sense of community in the towns and rural areas they represent. If local and regional newspapers close, scale back on coverage, or exist only online, the concept of a democracy of informed citizens will be forever weakened.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs, as high as 30 percent, on newsprint imported from Canada in response to claims by North Pacific Paper Company that Canada is distorting free and fair trade with a host of subsidies provided to paper mills north of the border. NORPAC’s claims are belied by the fact that the rest of the U.S. paper industry opposes the tariffs.  The paper industry in North America has long been characterized by logistical considerations that make robust cross-border investment and integration the norm. NORPAC, which is owned by a New York private equity firm, with no additional pulp or paper operations in the United States or globally, stands alone in its support for the tariffs.

More than 11,000 Americans, from all 50 states, have already registered their opposition to the newsprint tariffs in a petition delivered to the ITC.

The STOPP coalition has assembled extensive evidence that the tariffs are already harming the U.S. printing and publishing industries. If the tariffs continue, the harm will extend to newspapers, commercial printing, and book publishing operations, and cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, affecting paper manufacturers, ink suppliers, fuel producers, equipment manufacturers and others.

More than 90 members of the U.S. House and Senate have written letters objecting to these tariffs and more than a quarter of senators have co-sponsored legislation requesting the U.S. Department of Commerce to pause the tariffs for an impact study. In addition, letters of objection were also sent from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Communications Workers of America.

Testified in person on July 17:

U.S. Sen Bob Casey (D-PA)

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)

U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME)

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV)

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI)

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC)

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. David Trott (R-MI)

Filed letters or testimony with the ITC on July 17:

Letter from members of the Michigan delegation

Virginia delegation letter

South Dakota delegation letter

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) letter

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) letter

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) letter

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) testimony

U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) letter

 

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20 Members of Congress To Urge ITC Reversal of Newsprint Tariffs on Tuesday

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, July 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, twenty members of congress are scheduled to testify before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to defend 600,000 American workers in the newspaper, retail, printing and publishing industries, along with the millions of Americans who read local newspapers.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs, as high as 30 percent, on newsprint in response to claims by North Pacific Paper Company, a single paper mill operating in the pacific northwest. North Pacific is an outlier – the rest of the U.S. paper industry opposes the tariffs because they are causing deep and lasting harm to the industry’s primary customers. North Pacific is owned by a New York private equity firm, with no additional pulp or paper operations in the United States or globally.

More than 11,000 Americans, from all 50 states, have already registered their opposition to the newsprint tariffs in a petition delivered to the ITC.

The STOPP coalition has assembled extensive evidence that the tariffs are already harming the U.S. printing and publishing industries. If the tariffs continue, the harm will extend to newspapers, commercial printing, and book publishing operations, and cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, affecting paper manufacturers, ink suppliers, fuel producers, equipment manufacturers and others.

More than 80 members of the U.S. House and Senate have written letters objecting to these tariffs and more than a quarter of senators have co-sponsored legislation requesting the U.S. Department of Commerce to pause the tariffs for an impact study.

Scheduled to Testify:

U.S. Sen Bob Casey (D-PA)

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)

U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME)

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV)

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI)

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC)

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. David Trott (R-MI)


WHEN
:          Tuesday, July 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. ET

WHERE:        U.S. International Trade Commission

500 E St SW, Washington, DC 20436

NOTE: The hearing is not available via livestream. The hearing is open to media and public. Broadcast media should contact Peg O’Laughlin at the ITC to cover the hearing at 202-205-1819.

Learn more about STOPP, a group of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors, that have formed to #StoptheNewsprintTax here.

 

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17 Members of Congress To Urge ITC Reversal of Newsprint Tariffs on Tuesday

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, July 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. ET, seventeen members of congress are scheduled to testify before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to defend 600,000 American workers in the newspaper, retail, printing and publishing industries, along with the millions of Americans who read local newspapers.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs, as high as 30 percent, on newsprint in response to claims by North Pacific Paper Company, a single paper mill operating in the pacific northwest. North Pacific is an outlier – the rest of the U.S. paper industry opposes the tariffs because they are causing deep and lasting harm to the industry’s primary customers. North Pacific is owned by a New York private equity firm, with no additional pulp or paper operations in the United States or globally.

More than 11,000 Americans, from all 50 states, have already registered their opposition to the newsprint tariffs in a petition delivered to the ITC.

The STOPP coalition has assembled extensive evidence that the tariffs are already harming the U.S. printing and publishing industries. If the tariffs continue, the harm will extend to newspapers, commercial printing, and book publishing operations, and cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, affecting paper manufacturers, ink suppliers, fuel producers, equipment manufacturers and others.

More than 80 members of the U.S. House and Senate have written letters objecting to these tariffs and more than a quarter of senators have co-sponsored legislation requesting the U.S. Department of Commerce to pause the tariffs for an impact study.

Scheduled to Testify:

U.S. Sen Bob Casey (D-PA)

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)

U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME)

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX)

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY)

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley (R-WV)

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC)

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME)

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)

U.S. Rep. David Trott (R-MI)

Note: Will update on Monday with any additional participation.


WHEN
:          Tuesday, July 17 starting at 9:30 a.m. ET

WHERE:        U.S. International Trade Commission

500 E St SW, Washington, DC 20436

NOTE: The hearing is not available via livestream. The hearing is open to media and public; a full witness list is expected by Monday, July 16, 2018. Broadcast media should contact Peg O’Laughlin at the ITC to cover the hearing at 202-205-1819.

Learn more about STOPP, a group of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors, that have formed to #StoptheNewsprintTax here.

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Standard Editorial: Newsprint tariff not only threat to jobs, but also to freedom itself

Lakefield, Minnesota

By Justin R. Lessman

(June 20, 2018)

Buried in the national debate over tariffs being imposed by the Trump administration is one with which the president apparently had nothing to do.

However, it’s one that not only poses a serious threat to hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation, but also to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

New import tariffs imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Canadian newsprint — which have increased the cost of paper on which newspapers are printed by as much as 40 percent — jeopardize the viability of the newspaper industry and pose a direct threat to the freedom of the press.

Newspapers faced with significantly higher costs as a result of these tariffs are being forced to reduce pages dedicated to news, cut staff committed to gathering and reporting news and either raise subscription rates for paid-circulation newspapers or reduce distribution of free community newspapers — all of which impede community access to news and information. Newspapers are the only business enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and these tariffs are posing a serious threat to their ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.

The tariffs are also having a wide-reaching economic effect. Open positions at some newspapers are going unfilled, while others are faced with cutting staff. Businesses that rely on newspapers for communication of their messaging may encounter diminished market penetration and higher advertising costs. Even farmers who supply soy ink for newspapers may feel the pain as demand softens.

Some smaller community newspapers, which are already stressed by a decline in retail advertising and a soft ag economy, may have to make a tough choice in light of escalating newsprint costs — fight on with little hope of remaining financially viable, or simply cease to exist.

What’s especially frustrating is how the tariff came to be in the first place — as a result of a petition filed by a single paper mill in Washington state owned by a New York private equity firm. On the basis of that one petition submitted by that one paper mill, in the absence of support by any other U.S. newsprint mill or associated trade group and without any opportunity for public comment or input, the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped these tariffs on Canadian newsprint — the only source of newsprint for many of America’s newspapers — and disrupted an entire industry.

This lone paper mill employs about 500 people. Its petition and subsequent action by the U.S. government have put literally hundreds of thousands of jobs in the newspaper, publishing and printing industries at risk.

That just doesn’t seem right.

Many lawmakers in Congress agree. Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that would suspend tariffs on Canadian newsprint and require the U.S. Department of Commerce to study the economic health of the printing and publishing industries and the potential economic effect a permanent tariff would have.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will issue a final determination in the case on Aug. 2. The ITC’s final determination is expected in mid-September.

Here’s encouraging all who see value in newspapers to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to intervene — by signing on as a cosponsor of the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (H.R. 6031/S. 2385) and testifying at the July 17 ITC hearing or submitting comments ahead of time.

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle understand how essential a free press is to the well-being of our country and see how this unwanted tariff is posing a direct threat to that. This is truly a bipartisan issue, as evidenced by those members of Congress who have either signed on as cosponsors of the bill or who have agreed to testify or submit comments to the ITC. Hats off to them for not only standing up for small businesses, jobs and economic prosperity, but also for standing up for the First Amendment, the U.S. Constitution and the future well-being of the country we all love.

View the full article here

Daily Mail editorial: US tariff on Canadian newsprint is bad news

Charleston, West Virginia

(June 1, 2018)

The Daily Mail Opinion page has long been a supporter of free trade, publishing editorials and columns on occasion expressing opposition to U.S. government-instituted tariffs that generally seem to harm more jobs than they protect.

“Why don’t governments realize actions they take in the marketplace lead to other market actions sometimes worse than those they are trying to correct,” Daily Mail Opinion asked in an April 2017 editorial about restrictions on steel imports and state taxes on cigarettes.

In November 2017, tariffs on imported solar panels was the issue. “If tariffs are imposed, good-paying solar jobs will be lost,” the Daily Mail quoted an energy industry expert at the time.

Now we are expressing opposition to another tariff, this one that hits particularly close to home: a tariff on newsprint paper imported from Canada.

Yes, we are worried because the unnecessary and unhelpful tariffs could threaten newspaper industry jobs. But the damage that could be done is bigger than 600,000 newspaper and publishing industry jobs at risk. What’s really threatened is the type of quality local journalism that democracy and an informed electorate depends on.

A single company, the North Pacific Paper Company in Washington state, lobbied for countervailing and anti-dumping duties, arguing Canadian companies were dumping the paper used for newsprint for less than it’s worth, the Northwest Indiana Times reports.

Yet other U.S. printers, publishers and paper producers, argue that NORPAC is manipulating the federal government to pad its profits. They warn that thousands of jobs in the publishing business and already struggling newspaper industry could be at stake.

“Newsprint is the second largest expense for small newspapers after human resource costs,” said Susan Rowell, president of the National Newspaper Association. “A decision by the federal government to impose tariffs on our paper supply would imperil our news-gathering missions and put jobs in jeopardy at our newspapers and at many other organizations and companies in our communities that rely upon a healthy newspaper.”

This paper is used by newspapers, book publishers and numerous other commercial printers in the United States. The import taxes are as high as 32 percent on some products, and that cost is passed on to printers, book publishers and newspapers that are already under severe economic stress.

Nearly all of the U.S. paper industry opposes the import taxes, including the American Forest and Paper Association.

Fortunately, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and 10 others in the Senate are stepping up. Capito is a co-sponsor of the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 (PRINT Act) to address the crisis.

In a news release, Sen. Capito said the bipartisan legislation would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the health of — and the effects on — the printing and publishing industry. The bill was introduced by Susan Collins and Angus King, Republican and Independent senators from Maine, one of many states whose publishers would be severely affected.

Yes, here at Daily Mail Opinion, we consistently want to protect fair and free trade. We also want to preserve and protect as many newspaper industry jobs, including ours, as we can.

But most importantly, we want to protect the democratically vital hiqh-quality local journalism that affordable newsprint helps sustain.

View the full article here

The Moore County News is under attack

(March 29, 2018)

No doubt, The Moore County News is important to Moore County citizens. Always has been. It is important for all sorts of newspapers to survive for the sake of a free society-the very large and the very small ones, the liberal ones, the conservative ones, the middle-of-the-road ones, the ones with no viewpoint but just important news-all of them. America needs a free press like we need oxygen.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
The point of this column is to point out that the paper The Moore County News is printed on is under attack. One small paper mill in Washington State is trying to use the federal trade and tariff laws to make newsprint about 50 percent more expensive. This mill complained to the U.S. Department of Commerce concerning unfair international competition. If they succeed, the prices of newspaper printing will skyrocket. The resources The Moore County News needs to do a good job reporting community news (reporters, photographers, new technology, etc.) will be strangled.

Canadian paper producers have supplied the U.S. for many years. They have some natural advantages over U.S. papermakers because of hydroelectric power and shipping costs. Today, even if Canadian paper disappeared from the market because of the proposed high tariffs, the U.S. paper mills could not supply newspapers with the paper required. Mills cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and can take many years to “come on line”. No one can invest in a massive expansion of U.S. newsprint. Over the short term, tariffs will force the price of all paper up and as a result the only winners will be the New York investors who own the Washington State mill.

But Moore County and the rest of the country will lose. Fragile newspapers will vanish. Challenged newspapers will have to cut back. Even healthy newspapers are going to have to find ways to absorb a daunting new cost.

Who will pay? Everyone who relies on a newspaper to tell the local stories, cover elections, advertise sales, get pictures of the winning touchdown, and cheer the economic development people on in their work of creating new jobs.

This worries me greatly, not only because newspaper publishing is my livelihood, but also it will deliver a massive body blow to the 1st Amendment.

Newspaper readers should visit www.stopnewsprinttariffs.org to learn the details of this attack on a free press. Communicate your opposition to the tariffs to federal lawmakers.

Tell them to keep the presses rolling!