Lawmakers warn Trump tariffs threaten local newspapers
Author: Associated Press - July 17, 2018 - Updated: July 17, 2018
WASHINGTON — About a dozen members of Congress warned Tuesday that newspapers in their home states are in danger of cutting coverage, laying off workers or going out of business if the United States maintains recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint.
Newsprint is the type of paper used in producing newspapers.
The Trump administration ordered the tariffs in response to a complaint from a paper producer in Washington state. It argues that Canadian competitors take advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.
About a dozen lawmakers spoke out against making the tariffs permanent during a United States International Trade Commission hearing. The commission is reviewing whether U.S. producers of certain groundwood paper products, including newsprint, have been materially injured because of the imports from Canada. The commission’s findings play a critical role in whether the Department of Commerce makes the tariffs permanent.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel newspaper on Sunday announced it would discontinue its Monday and Tuesday print editions starting Aug. 13, with Publisher Jay Seaton blaming costs of newsprint that he says have risen by 33 percent since January 2016.
Newsprint is generally the second-largest expense for local papers. The tariffs have increased prices by 25 to 30 percent.
Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine both argued that the tariffs will hurt the industry they’re designed to help because it will diminish the market for newsprint in America as newspapers shrink or close.
“If you end up with a smaller market, you haven’t helped anybody, let alone the plant in Washington that is petitioning for this help,” King said.
The newsprint tariffs reflect President Donald Trump’s tough new approach to U.S. trade relations, but are separate from other high-profile trade actions taken in recent weeks. The administration has also sought to curb imports from China and steel and aluminum imports from a range of countries.