Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bipartisan group of legislators go to bat for newspapers at newsprint International Trade Commission tariff hearing

At yesterday's U.S. International Trade Commission hearing, a bipartisan group of 19 legislators said the Commerce Department's tariffs on Canadian newsprint are hurting American newspapers. "The tariffs already substantially increase the cost of newsprint, leading newspapers to shrink the size of their pages and plan for job cuts in response, the lawmakers said. The tariffs would hasten the decline of local news, they said, harming journalists and communities served by small local publications rather than major newspapers," Jeff Cirillo reports for Roll Call.

The Trump administration imposed the tariffs in March after the North Pacific Paper Co. complained that Canadian manufacturers were selling newsprint at unfait prices. North Pacific, a company in Washington state with a single paper mill, was purchased in 2016 by a New York hedge fund. At the hearing, a NorPac representative said the tariffs have allowed paper mills to increase production and re-hire American workers.

"Speakers against the tariffs included House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Alaska and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania," Cirillo reports. "The group comprised 13 Republicans, five Democrats and independent Maine Sen. Angus King."

Republican Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan. “In these communities, there are no big newspapers to bring people their local news. These tariffs, if continued, would do lasting damage to these local institutions.” Some legislators have introduced bills to block the tariffs, which the ITC could block. Also, Commerce could change its mind.

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