Revision to newsprint tariffs welcome, but does not solve underlying problem
Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers (STOPP), a coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors today released the following statements regarding the U.S. Department of Commerce's final determination on uncoated groundwood paper imports from Canada.
"These import duties on newsprint have already caused job losses in the printing and publishing sectors and have resulted in decreased news coverage in local communities," said David Chavern, president and CEO, News Media Alliance. "Although this is a step in the right direction, the reduced rates only lessen the pace at which the tariffs are harming the industry. We hope that the International Trade Commission will entirely reverse these misguided tariffs at the end of the month."
Newsprint used by U.S. newspapers and commercial printers consists of two-thirds of uncoated groundwood paper. This claim was filed by North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC), a single paper mill located in Longview, Washington, owned by a New York private equity firm. NORPAC is an outlier-the rest of the U.S. paper industry opposes the tariffs due to the deep and lasting harm to the industry's primary customers-newspapers, book publishers and printers.
"We appreciate Commerce's slight reduction in tariffs; however, commercial printing companies, book printers, suppliers and consumers will still pay a price with increased costs and less business, which will hurt our member companies, their employees, and ultimately U.S. newsprint manufacturers. We hope the International Trade Commission will reverse this tax on paper," said Michael Makin, president and CEO, Printing Industries of America.
"Readers in our towns will welcome the news that their local newspapers are in a little less in jeopardy from devastating tariffs. 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. We are extremely disappointed to find that the federal government wants to permanently add a tax to our burden when so many publishers are already challenged to deliver the news to their towns. We hope the International Trade Commission better appreciates the gravity of this situation," said Susan Rowell, president of National Newspaper Association and publisher of the Lancaster (S.C.) News.
A broad and diverse chorus continues to grow in opposition to the newsprint tariffs that threaten the jobs of 600,000 American workers in the newspaper, retail, printing and publishing industries.
- More than 11,000 Americans, from all 50 states, have registered their opposition in a petition delivered to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
- Nineteen members of Congress testified before the ITC on July 17. In addition, five Congressional Members and three state delegations submitted letters and comments.
- Both the Teamsters and the Communication Workers of America have written letters opposing the tariffs, along with many others.
- More than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate from across the political spectrum have written letters objecting to these tariffs.
- Nearly one-third of U.S. Senators have co-sponsored 2835 requesting the U.S. Department of Commerce to pause the tariffs for an impact study.
- Support for the like House legislation R. 6031 continues to grow with 36 co-sponsors.
In total, approximately 150 Members of Congress have shown opposition with either a call, letter or co-sponsoring legislation.
There are numerous examples of how the tariffs are already harming the U.S. news, printing and publishing industries. If the tariffs continue, many local community newspapers will continue to cut back on the number of distribution days, reduce print pages or cease printing operations. Advertisers, with no room to expand budgets, will continue to reduce advertising inserts. And these decisions will cause a ripple effect throughout the supply chain, affecting paper manufacturers, ink suppliers, fuel producers, equipment manufacturers and others.
In some cases, tariffs help U.S. producers. However, these tariffs have exacerbated the decades-long decline in newsprint demand, financially harming U.S. newsprint producers. A study undertaken by Charles River and Associates (CRA) on behalf of STOPP Coalition members News Media Alliance and Quad Graphics, analyzed the impact the tariffs will have on newspapers and printers. The CRA analysis found that:
- Newsprint prices are projected to increase by more than 30 percent to 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.
- An estimated loss of more than 250 U.S. newsprint jobs could follow a short spike in employment.
The ITC will conclude its final investigation in the coming weeks with a vote scheduled on Aug. 29 to affirm or reverse the tariffs.
"It is truly unfortunate that the Department of Commerce chose not to fully recognize the impact that these tariffs will have – indeed already are having – on our members and other community-focused newspapers. AAN members are not just concerned, but scared, about their ability to print their newspapers and inform their readers about matters of local concern. Many have already been informed that printing costs will increase, which translates into fewer employees, fewer pages or, worse, inability to publish entirely. We hope that the International Trade Commission will recognize the urgency of this situation and go a step further by significantly reducing or entirely eliminating these tariffs when it acts later this year," said Molly Willmott, president, Association of Alternative Newsmedia.
"We are very disappointed that the Department of Commerce, in offering only a slight reduction in the overall tariffs, continues to prioritize the interest of a few ahead of the needs of many – namely the employees of printers, publishers, paper suppliers and distributors across the United States and the citizenry they ultimately help to inform. We in the newspaper industry exist to serve our readers; this decision will make our jobs harder, in part because we know we will be able to employ fewer people to do those jobs. We sincerely hope the International Trade Commission will fully eliminate these tariffs," said Alfredo Carbajal, president, American Society of News Editors.
"Notwithstanding the small adjustments announced today, the Association for Printing Technologies stands with its colleagues in the printing, publishing and paper industries in opposing the continued harmful imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian UGW paper by the Department of Commerce, and implores the International Trade Commission to end the ongoing damage of these debilitating tariffs by finding against their imposition," said Mark J. Nuzzaco, vice president, government affairs for the Association for Print Technologies.
Learn more about STOPP's campaign to stop the newsprint tax here.