Guest editorial: Newsprint tariffs threaten print journalism across the country

The Orange County Register
Guest Editorial

Thousands of American newspaper jobs across the country are at risk due to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Canadian newsprint imports.

In March, the Commerce Department announced tariffs of 22.16 percent on Canadian newsprint, the type of paper commonly used by print newspapers across the country. That’s on top of tariffs of 4.4 to 9 percent on newsprint and other uncoated paper products, according to the California News Publishers Association.

With print newspapers already struggling, the tariffs only undermine the ability of newspapers to continue to provide local coverage to communities across the country.


Job losses are already on the way as a result of the tariff – the Tampa Bay Times for instance has announced layoffs of about 50 employees would be necessary in response.

The American Forest and Paper Association also opposes the tariff on the grounds that it interferes with U.S. producers who operate in both the United States and Canada.

What prompted the tariffs?

A complaint from North Pacific Paper Co., a newsprint producer with about 400 employees in Washington state. The mill complained Canadian producers were able to sell their products in the United States for less than what the Washington producer could.

In other words, the Commerce Department, in response to a complaint from one company, chose to threaten far more American jobs than would ever be protected with a newsprint tariff.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-ME, have introduced legislation to suspend the tariffs.

The Trump administration has imposed a tariff on newsprint from Canada, where most U.S. papers get their newsprint.

The Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade Act of 2018 has over two-dozen co-sponsors from both parties, reflecting the nonpartisan interest in removing unreasonable impediments to print journalism.

Fundamentally, this tariff is an avoidable, harmful tax on journalism with little redeeming benefit.

Government should facilitate trade, not hinder it for the sake of protecting select industries or companies.

The International Trade Commission is set to hold a hearing on whether to keep the tariffs in place on July 17.  We call on the ITC to consider carefully what is on the line and reject the tariffs.

— The Orange County Register, July 4