Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Maine's senators introduce bill to suspend newsprint tariff

"Maine’s two U.S. senators have introduced a bill to delay final implementation of an import tax on Canadian newsprint," Dennis Hoey and Edward Murphy report for the Press Herald in Portland. "Federal agencies have begun imposing a tariff on imported newsprint of as much as 32 percent, and critics say it is already hurting U.S. newspapers and other print publications."

A newsprint mill in Washington state that was recently purchased by a hedge fund triggered the tariffs after it complained that Canada unfairly subsidized newsprint manufacturing. The Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission announced the first round of countervailing duties on uncoated groundwood paper in January. Countervailing duties are a sort of tariff levied on imported goods to offset subsidies given to producers in the exporting country. In March, Commerce also announced preliminary "anti-dumping" duties as high as 22.16 percent on Canadian newsprint imports.

The proposed PRINT Act, sponsored by Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats, "would require the Commerce Department to study the health of the domestic newsprint industry along with the newspaper industry, and issue a report to the president and Congress within 90 days . . . since Commerce and ITC typically don't typically study the impact of import taxes on secondary industries, only the industry that duties would help protect--in this case, newsprint makers," Hoey and Murphy report. The bill would also freeze the import tax until the president has received the report and agrees it's in the nation's economic interest.

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