On Tuesday, members of Congress and witnesses voiced their opposition to tariffs on Canadian newsprint to the International Trade Commission, citing the harm already caused to U.S. newspapers in their home states.
Newspapers have already been hit with higher newsprint prices since the Department of Commerce’s preliminary rulings both in January and March, and have adapted by reducing news coverage, reducing pages, laying off employees and/or not filling open positions.
“Unfortunately, the trade laws are against us when it comes to tariffs, but that didn’t stop us from making our voices heard at the ITC hearing,” IPA President & CEO Sam Fisher said. “Nineteen members of Congress testified on our behalf, including Danny Davis (D-IL).”
He continued, “This may be a first, but every member of Congress from Illinois took a position to oppose the newsprint tariffs. All 18 members of the House signed a joint letter to the ITC and both Sens. Durbin (D-IL) and Duckworth (D-IL) wrote opposition letters, as well. I believe that no other state got the support of their entire congressional delegation.”
In August 2017, North Pacific Paper Company, a single newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest owned by a New York hedge fund, petitioned the Department of Commerce alleging unfair trade practices on the import of Canadian newsprint. The claim alleges that the Canadian government subsidizes (countervailing) the production of newsprint and Canadian mills are selling newsprint below the actual cost of production (anti-dumping).
“We’ve been good to mobilize when it comes to issues that affect us in Springfield, but this is the first time that I can remember that we’ve tackled a federal issue,” said Fisher. “We should be proud of our efforts and we will continue to fight against these terrible tariffs.”
He continued, “As a state, our newspapers wrote countless editorials, solicited opposition signatures and reached out to their elected officials. Additionally, the impact of tariffs on Illinois newspapers and our Congressional support received national and international attention. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) is one of the co-sponsors in the House of the PRINT Act, which calls for a suspension of tariffs until a thorough study can be conducted about the impact of tariffs.”
An ITC decision is expected in late August, and the Department of Commerce will make its final determination in September. It should be noted that both the ITC and the DOC have to agree to uphold preliminary tariffs. If they don’t, the tariffs go away.