Two critical decisions on the newsprint trade case are coming in August. First, the Department of Commerce is expected to announce its final determination on countervailing and antidumping duties on Canadian imports of newsprint on August 2 or 3. Those tariffs currently range as high as 32 percent. While the Alliance and key policymakers have encouraged Commerce to use its discretion to eliminate or significantly reduce these duties, it would be unusual for the agency to stray too far from the proposed tariffs that were set in the preliminary phase.
At the same time, the International Trade Commission (ITC) is closing out its final investigation on whether Canadian newsprint imports have caused or threaten to cause material injury to NORPAC and other U.S. newsprint mills. The ITC will vote on the issue on August 29. The Alliance filed its reply brief in the case on July 30, reiterating arguments that were fleshed out by witnesses at the ITC hearing on July 17. These arguments include, but are not limited to: (1) the buying and selling of newsprint is a regional market, and NORPAC does not compete with Eastern North American mills and vice versa; (2) newspapers consider many factors — not simply price — when purchasing newsprint, such as basis weight of the newsprint, reliability of the supplier and compatibility of the newsprint with a particular press; (3) it is the decades-long shift from print to digital that has caused financial challenges for the U.S. newsprint industry, not imports from Canada; and (4) making the tariffs permanent will only accelerate the decline in the market and harm U.S. producers that the tariffs are intended to protect.
As we head toward an ITC vote on August 29, we will continue to engage policymakers and the press in explaining the threat these tariffs present for the distribution of local news in communities across the country. A recent segment on CBS This Morning examined the issue and showed some of the consequences of high newsprint tariffs on the news media industry and the American news landscape.
As soon as Commerce and the ITC announce their final determinations, we will share the results with the Alliance membership.
Paul Boyle is the Senior Vice President of Public Policy at News Media Alliance.