Commission blocks tariffs on newsprint


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

In a victory for the American newspaper industry, the U.S. International Trade Commission on Wednesday blocked tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on imported newsprint, finding that American producers weren’t harmed by imports from Canadian paper mills.

The newspaper industry had complained that the rising cost of newsprint, typically their second-biggest expense, made it harder to operate.

In July, lawmakers testified before the ITC that the tariffs were hurting the very paper industry they were supposed to protect. That’s because publishers were responding to the additional costs by reducing the number of pages in their newspapers, thus dampening demand for newsprint, the paper used to make newspapers, books and advertising inserts. Others testified that the higher cost of newsprint had led newspapers to cut staffing and the number of local events that they cover.

“These tariffs were extremely harmful to our regional papers – the lifeblood of our local communities,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted. “ITC made exactly the right decision to completely eliminate them. I will remain vigilant to make sure that they never return.”

The Commerce Department had imposed the tariffs in response to a complaint from a hedge-fund-owned paper producer in Washington state that argued that its Canadian competitors took advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.

The department had revised the tariffs lower in a decision earlier this month, though newsprint buyers still would have been hit with an anti-dumping levy of up to 16.88 percent and anti-subsidy duties of up to 9.81 percent.

But under U.S. law, the two-part process for making the tariffs permanent also requires the ITC to find that the U.S. paper industry was harmed or threatened by the imports from Canada. The commission unanimously determined that no injury is occurring.

Members of a coalition of printers and publishers hailed the ruling, calling it “a great day for American journalism.”

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