Tariff decision on Canadian newsprint adds to worries for American newspapers

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The Canadian Government has described the US Government's preliminary countervailing duty ruling on imports of Canadian uncoated groundwood paper as "unjustified".

Kruger, the parent company of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, is one of the three companies targeted by the US, but duties would apply to all Canadian producers.

A number of Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators along with more than one thousand small to medium-sized U.S. newspaper publishers strongly opposed any duties on Canadian newsprint fearing that the duties would end up compromising American jobs.

This latest tariff slap on an overall tax of 6.53 per cent on about 25 Canadian plants that will impact mostly the Ontario and Quebec region and follows the outrageous 20.83 per cent combined duty imposed by the USA on Canadian softwood lumber in 2017.

The commerce department's preliminary decision calls for the imposition of tariffs of up to 10 percent on the import of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will make another decision on anti-dumping duties in March and the U.S. International Trade Commission will be asked to rule on the two measures in August. Quebec's Resolute and Kruger face duties of 4.4 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, and all other producers in Canada face duties of 6.5 per cent.

The company, which is based in Longview, Wash., complained to the Commerce Department in August that US paper makers are being hurt by Canadian groundwood.

Anneberg said that's a "small price to pay to preserve American manufacturing jobs" in Washington, Mississippi and Georgia. (Norpac), the company that launched the complaint, said it only seeks to "compete on a level playing field" against Canadian mills that get cheap fibre and preferred rates for electricity.

"Now they are perversely manipulating trade law in an effort to satisfy their own personal greed".

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Kursman said Norpac was alone in its challenge because production margins are "razor thin".

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, representatives of more than 1,100 local publications nationwide wrote: "Facing increased costs of newsprint across all suppliers, many small-town papers will be at risk of failing".

In a joint statement, Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, said they are "deeply disappointed" with the decision.

"Any duties will have a direct and negative impact on U.S. newspapers, especially those in small cities and towns, and result in job losses in the American printing sector".

"We will continue to work with our forest industry, provinces and territories, and communities across Canada to defend this vital sector against unfair and unwarranted United States trade measures and practices".

"This is not really based on sound objective methods", said Neuheimer.

In response to the December 4 letter, Norpac sent another letter to Commerce last month accusing the News Media Alliance of supporting Canadian paper producers at the expense of American jobs and industry.

"Forestry is as important to the Canadian economy as energy", said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

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