McKinley lauds rollback on newsprint tariffs

WASHINGTON — Tariffs on Canadian newsprint were overturned this week by the United States International Trade Commission that said American producers were not hurt by the imports.

The decision was lauded by U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who in April wrote a letter to the commission saying the tariffs are having a profound financial impact on newspapers, particularly those in rural areas including newspapers in West Virginia.

“We’re encouraged by the decision to roll back these tariffs that were having a negative impact on the news industry, particularly in rural areas. The impact of the tariffs varied by paper, but as a whole they amounted to an estimated $421 million annual loss to the industry,” McKinley said. “Because of other factors, there are only five paper mills still operating in the United States, leaving most newspapers dependent on imported newsprint from Canada.

The commission earlier this year imposed a preliminary tariff on Canadian newsprint on the request of the North American Paper Co. The company said Canadian newsprint, which is subsidized, was being dumped in America at low prices and put American manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

North American is one of five paper mills in the United States. Together, the mills can only supply 34 percent of the demand in the United States, according to McKinley.

Three of the mills, including North American, are located in the state of Washington and the other two are in the Southeast United States. While it’s economically inefficient to ship newsprint across the country, the rest of American newspapers rely on the two mills in the Southeast or Canada, McKinley said.

The tariffs would have had a substantial financial impact on newspapers, including the 19 daily and 54 weekly newspapers in West Virginia, McKinley said. The tariffs cost the West Central Publishing in St. Marys $18,600 and The Exponent Telegram in Clarksburg $180,000, the equivalent of four full-time jobs, he said.

“This is the case we made to the ITC and thankfully they listened,” he said. “Now our nation’s dedicated newspapers can plan for the future without the threat of these job-killing tariffs looming overhead,” McKinley said.

The International Trade Commission in a statement about the decision said it “determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

“The efforts of Congressman McKinley were incredibly impactful and made a strong impression on the ITC commissioners,” Seth Kursman, vice president, corporate communications, government affairs and sustainability for Resolute Forest Products, said.