USA publishers sound alarm over Canadian newsprint tariffs

Jeannie Matthews
March 15, 2018

Canada's government said it was "disappointed" by the new United States measure.

It's not much consolation that this is less than the nearly 55 per cent rate requested by the Washington-based North Pacific Paper Company which filed a petition in August 2017 alleging Canada was dumping newsprint in the United States.

On behalf of the workers in our sector, Forest Products Association of Canada is disappointed in this outcome and strongly believes that these duties are completely unjustified and represent a costly and losing proposition for workers and paper customers on both sides of the border.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) has imposed preliminary antidumping duties on certain grades of uncoated groundwood paper, including newsprint.

The U.S. trade action, which follows the imposition of stiff duties against Canadian softwood lumber past year, comes amid tough renegotiations among the United States, Canada and Mexico on the decades-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

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Commerce said Tuesday that it has found Canadian producers are selling newsprint for up to 22 percent less than fair value. In response, Commerce announced on January 9 that it will impose countervailing duties, meant to counter export subsidies, ranging from below 1 percent to almost 10 percent. That's on top of a preliminary 9.93 per cent countervailing duty that was imposed on the company in January. The addition of 22.16 per cent in anti-dumping duties raises the company's combined tariff to 28.25 per cent.

"Today, people working at Catalyst mills in Port Alberni, Powell River and Crofton are receiving the news of yet another unfair decision by the USA against B.C.'s newsprint industry, and their communities". According to the lawmakers and thousands of newspapers nationwide - including eight in New Mexico - the tariffs are dramatically increasing paper prices and additional cost increases would be unsustainable for many papers, especially small, local newspapers, and force some to shut down amid other ongoing financial pressures in the newspaper industry.

Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products Inc. and Catalyst are the mandatory respondents in the anti-dumping case. Canada has won previous disputes with the United States over softwood lumber. President Donald Trump has vowed to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the US and Mexico.

The US announcement came as Canada's Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, was in Washington to discuss bilateral trade relations.

Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said the decision on newsprint tariffs underscores the confrontational position of the Trump administration.

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