By Editorial Board
(August 9, 2018)
The Trump administration reduced tariffs on newsprint that are damaging our fragile industry, but it should have gone farther and eliminated them altogether.
Now, our hopes for an end to the tariffs rest on the International Trade Commission, which will decide an appeal later this month.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department slapped punitive tariffs – as high as 22 percent — on specialty paper made in Canada. It was acting on a complaint from a single paper mill in the Pacific Northwest. The decision ignored the fact that newsprint production is practically non-existent in the eastern United States, due to the decline of the print newspaper industry over the past 10 years and the rise in demand for paperboard boxes driven by online retailers like Amazon.
The tariffs have done a lot of damage already, leading to layoffs and reduced print offerings in cities like Buffalo and Tampa. Small community newspapers are especially vulnerable to the spike in newsprint costs. It’s not an exaggeration to say some of them will go out of business if the tariffs stand. That would be a devastating loss to their communities and to the health of our democracy, which depends on a free and vibrant press to inform citizens and to be a government watchdog.
Sen. Charles Schumer and our delegation in the House of Representatives have been fighting to get the tariffs eliminated. They succeeded in getting the tariffs reduced, to a maximum of 16.88 percent. It should be zero because there is no economic justification for a tariff of any amount.
Now, lobbying efforts shift to the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency. We urge the commission to cancel the newsprint tariffs altogether.